Jim Anderson

Alexander Williamson Professor of Chemistry


Based at Birkbeck

Personal Website

The development of near Infra Red luciferins (infraluciferins) for bioluminescence imaging

Current imaging technologies that enable biological features to be visualized in a non-invasive manner have given unprecedented insight into previously unknown mechanisms of disease formation in whole cells and organisms. Among the most popular non-invasive imaging tools are the bioluminescent proteins (luciferases) used with a small light giving molecule (a luciferin). Among these bioluminescent pairs, the luciferase and luciferin from the firefly (Fluc and D-luciferin, respectively) are the most widely used for imaging in vivo. However, D-Luciferin emits light of wavelength 558nm and as such its use in vivo is limited by the absorption and scattering of light by haemoglobin and tissue. In order to have great clinical benefit, allowing deep tissue imaging, we have synthesized a luciferin analogue called infra-luciferin which emits the furthest red shifted truly bioluminescent emission of 706-720 nm, where blood and tissue are transparent. We have shown that it is amenable to colour tuning by different luciferases and that different colour signals in vivo can be detected and distinguished, We are developing other analogues and would be interested in collaborating with researchers who have challenging imaging applications that this nr IR bioluminescence system may solve.

Selected publications

A Dual Color Far-Red to Near-Infrared Firefly Luciferin Analogue Designed for Multi-Parametric Bioluminescence Imaging
Jathoul, A. P., Grounds, H., Anderson, J. C., Pule, M. A., Angew.
A Convergent Synthesis and Optical Properties of Near-infrared Emitting Bioluminescent Infra-luciferins
Anderson, J. C., Grounds, H., Jathoul, A. P., Murray, J. A. H., Pacman, S. J., Tisi, L.
RSC Advances (2017) 7, 3975-82
D Flucs: brighter Photinus pyralis firefly luciferases identified by surveying consecutive single amino acid deletion mutations in a thermostable variant
Halliwell, L., Jathoul, A., Bate, J., Worthy, H., Anderson, J. C., Jones, D., Murray, J.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering (2017) DOI: 10.1002/bit.26451