High sensitivity in vivo imaging of cancer metastasis using a near-infrared luciferin analogue seMpai

Jun Nakayama*, Ryohei Saito, Yusuke Hayashi, Nobuo Kitada, Shota Tamaki, Yuxuan Han, Kentaro Semba, Shojiro A. Maki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is useful to monitor cell movement and gene expression in live animals. However, D-luciferin has a short wavelength (560 nm) which is absorbed by tissues and the use of near-infrared (NIR) luciferin analogues enable high sensitivity in vivo BLI. The AkaLumine-AkaLuc BLI system (Aka-BLI) can detect resolution at the single-cell level; however, it has a clear hepatic background signal. Here, to enable the highly sensitive detection of bioluminescence from the surrounding liver tissues, we focused on seMpai (C15H16N3O2S) which has been synthesized as a luciferin analogue and has high luminescent abilities as same as AkaLumine. We demonstrated that seMpai BLI could detect micro-signals near the liver without any background signal. The solution of seMpai was neutral; therefore, seMpai imaging did not cause any adverse effect in mice. seMpai enabled a highly sensitive in vivo BLI as compared to previous techniques. Our findings suggest that the development of a novel mutated luciferase against seMpai may enable a highly sensitive BLI at the single-cell level without any background signal. Novel seMpai BLI system can be used for in vivo imaging in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7896
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 1


  • In vivo imaging
  • Luciferin analogue
  • Metastasis
  • Near-infrared bioluminescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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