NanoLuc luciferase as a suitable fusion partner of recombinant antibody fragments for developing sensitive luminescent immunoassays

Hiroyuki Oyama, Yuki Kiguchi, Izumi Morita, Takayuki Miyashita, Akiyoshi Ichimura, Hiroko Miyaoka, Aki Izumi, Sayaka Terasawa, Natsumi Osumi, Hiroki Tanaka, Toshifumi Niwa, Norihiro Kobayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are essential for monitoring various biomarkers. Competitive and noncompetitive (sandwich) assay formats are used to determine hapten and macromolecule levels, respectively. Both formats require more sensitive detection of reporter enzymes for greater assay sensitivities. We previously reported the utility of wild-type Gaussia luciferase (wtGLuc) as a fusion partner with antibody single-chain Fv fragments (scFvs) for developing sensitive luminescent ELISAs. Here, we evaluated utility of NanoLuc luciferase (NLuc), a recently developed luciferase, as fusion partner with scFvs from the view of comparison with wtGLuc and a mutant of alkaline phosphatase (ALP’). Thyroxine (T4) and T4-labeled albumin were chosen as model haptenic and macromolecular antigens, respectively. An in-house-prepared anti-T4 scFv was fused with NLuc, wtGLuc, or ALP’. The scFv−NLuc fusion protein showed 47-fold and 29-fold lower limit of detection [LOD; 59 zmol (per assay)] than the wtGLuc- and ALP’-fusions, respectively. In a competitive T4 ELISA, the NLuc-fusion showed 9.3- and 6.3-fold lower LOD, (0.67 pg) than the wtGLuc- and ALP’-fusions, respectively, with a higher specificity in clinical applications. A typical colorimetric ELISA using a peroxidase-labeled second antibody showed 70-fold higher LOD than NLuc-based ELISA. Another advantage of the NLuc-fusion was shown in the sandwich assays; the LOD of T4-labeled albumin (5.0 fmol) was >6-fold lower than that of the other luminescent ELISAs. In an additional sandwich assay developed to count bacteriophage particles, NLuc enabled more sensitive determination than wtGLuc, whereas ALP’ showed nearly equivalent performance. Its slowest alteration rate for light intensity after starting the enzyme reaction should enable robust batch-by-batch assay operations. Thus, we concluded that scFv−NLuc fusions serve as suitable probes in various types of immunoassays and may facilitate higher sensitivities with practical specificities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number238180
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 29


  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • Luminescent immunoassay
  • NanoLuc luciferase
  • Single-chain Fv fragment (scFv)
  • Thyroxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy


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