Biosynthesis of coelenterazine in the deep-sea copepod, Metridia pacifica

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Dec 18;390(3):684-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.10.028. Epub 2009 Oct 13.


Coelenterazine is an imidazopyrazinone compound (3,7-dihydroimidazopyrazin-3-one structure) that is widely distributed in marine organisms and used as a luciferin for various bioluminescence reactions. We have used electrospray ionization-ion trap-mass spectrometry to investigate whether the deep-sea luminous copepod Metridia pacifica is able to synthesize coelenterazine. By feeding experiments using deuterium labeled amino acids of l-tyrosine and l-phenylalanine, we have shown that coelenterazine can be synthesized from two molecules of l-tyrosine and one molecule of l-phenylalanine in M. pacifica. This is the first demonstration that coelenterazine is biosynthesized from free l-amino acids in a marine organism.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copepoda / chemistry
  • Copepoda / genetics
  • Copepoda / metabolism*
  • Imidazoles / metabolism*
  • Luminescent Agents / chemistry
  • Luminescent Agents / metabolism*
  • Phenylalanine / metabolism
  • Pyrazines / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Imidazoles
  • Luminescent Agents
  • Pyrazines
  • coelenterazine
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine