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Rapid and scalable assembly of firefly luciferase substrates


Bioluminescence imaging with luciferase-luciferin pairs is a popular method for visualizing biological processes in vivo. Unfortunately, most luciferins are difficult to access and remain prohibitively expensive for some imaging applications. Here we report cost-effective and efficient syntheses of d-luciferin and 6'-aminoluciferin, two widely used bioluminescent substrates. Our approach employs inexpensive anilines and Appel's salt to generate the luciferin cores in a single pot. Additionally, the syntheses are scalable and can provide multi-gram quantities of both substrates. The streamlined production and improved accessibility of luciferin reagents will bolster in vivo imaging efforts.

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