Effects of nanomaterials on luciferase with significant protection and increased enzyme activity observed for zinc oxide nanomaterials


This principle goal of this research was to examine the effects of various nanomaterials on the activity and behavior of the firefly enzyme luciferase. Nanomaterials have been found to stabilize, and in some instances, shown to increase the activity of enzymes. In this study gold, manganese oxide (MnO), and zinc oxide (ZnO) nanomaterials were utilized in order to test their effects on enzyme activity. Luciferase was used because its activity is easy to analyze, as it typically produces a large amount of bioluminescence easily detected by a Microtiter plate reader. Following incubation with the various nanomaterials, luciferase was subjected to degradation by several protein denaturing agents, such as heat, SDS, urea, ethanol, protease, hydrogen peroxide, and pH changes. Results indicated that luciferase activity is indeed affected when combined with nanomaterials, accompanied by both increases and decreases in enzyme activity depending on the type of nanomaterial and denaturing agent used. In most of the experiments, when incubated with ZnO nanomaterials, luciferase depicted significant increases in activity and bioluminescence. Additional experiments, in which human A375 cells were treated with luciferase-nanomaterial mixtures, also depicted increased enzyme activity and bioluminescence for luciferase incubated with ZnO nanomaterials. Ultimately, our findings indicated that when luciferase was subjected to multiple types of denaturation, zinc oxide nanomaterials dramatically preserved and increased enzyme activity and bioluminescence. Copyright © 2011 American Scientific Publishers All rights reserved.


Physics, Astronomy, and Materials Science
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Biomedical Sciences

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Enzyme activity, Gold nanoparticles, Luciferase, Luminescence, Manganese oxide nanomaterials, Microtiter plate reader, Protein denaturation, Zinc oxide nanomaterials

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology