from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An enzyme present in the cells of bioluminescent organisms that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin and ATP, producing light.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any one of a group of enzymes that produce bioluminescence by oxidizing luciferin.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. an enzyme which catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin, thereby producing bioluminescence.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of the two special substances by the reactions of which light is supposed to be produced by fireflies.


lucifer(in) + -ase.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • To track leukemia onset and response to therapy, the scientists tagged all leukemia cells with a gene from fireflies that encodes an enzyme called luciferase, which makes leukemia cells glow and detectable by a ultrasensitive camera.


  • The Swedes would add one base of DNA at a time first A then C then G then T and, starting with the release of pyrophosphate, use a clever chemical domino effect involving an enzyme called luciferase, extracted from fireflies, to turn the chemical cue into a pulse of light.

    The $1,000 Genome

  • Firefly larvae start out their lives chomping on escargot, and then evolve into glamorous flying creatures who manufacture an enzyme called luciferase, which is all glowy and also can be used to tell if cows are sick.

    Archive 2007-05-01

  • To understand how ATP is used in the brain, Dr. Ryan and his team will target a luminescent molecule derived from fireflies, called luciferase, to synapses.

    Newswise: Latest News

  • Using a unique test created at UTMB that adds a light-emitting molecular beacon, called luciferase, to Ebola viruses and the virus-like particles, the investigators were able to determine exactly when and where each broke out of its bubble, and track its progress.


  • To track whether the lactase gene is turned on or off, Dr. Sibley borrowed the firefly's "luciferase" gene, which is responsible for lighting up the firefly's tail.

    Why Do People Become Lactose-Intolerant?

  • This has been demonstrated using a mouse containing an NFAT-luciferase reporter gene inserted within its genome (a transgenic mouse).

    Urology Division Research

  • He explained to me that Cypridina, a small crustacean common in shallow coastal waters of Japan, emits light with an organic compound called luciferin and an enzyme, luciferase.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • During my first few months in Princeton, I extracted and purified luciferase from dried Cypridina.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • It is produced when oxygen, breathed in through the abdominal trachea, combines with a substance called luciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, in special cells called photocytes.

    The light that draws the flower


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  • See luciferin.

    Latin lūciferlight-bringing; see Lucifer + -in.
    (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

    April 29, 2016

  • sounds evil

    April 29, 2016

  • "An enzyme present in the cells of bioluminescent organisms that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin and ATP, producing light." per the AHD

    May 27, 2008