Oxyluciferin photoacidity: The missing element for solving the keto-enol mystery?

Luís Pinto Da Silva, Ron Simkovitch, Dan Huppert, Joaquim C.G.Esteves Da Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The oxyluciferin family of fluorophores has been receiving much attention from the research community and several systematic studies have been performed in order to gain more insight regarding their photophysical properties and photoprotolytic cycles. In this minireview, we summarize the knowledge obtained so far and define several possible lines for future research. More importantly, we analyze the impact of the discoveries on the firefly bioluminescence phenomenon made so far and explain how they re-open again the discussion regarding the identity (keto or enol species) of the bioluminophore. Keto-enol enigma rekindled! The oxyluciferin family of fluorophores is found to be photoacidic and of being able to transfer protons in the excited state. Moreover, photoinduced keto-enol-tautomeric reactions are found (see picture). These findings rekindle the possibility of enol-based firefly bioluminescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3441-3446
Number of pages6
Issue number15
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2013


  • bioluminescence
  • oxyluciferin
  • photoacids
  • proton transfer
  • tautomerism


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