What Is A Luciferase Assay

Luciferase reporter assays provide researchers with increased sensitivity and precision due to low signal-to-noise ratios making it easier for researchers to properly process their data and render it meaningful.


Bioluminescence technologies such as firefly luciferase reporter assays provide researchers with increased sensitivity and precision compared to fluorescence assays. Bioluminescence is a chemical process in living organisms in which an enzyme breaks down a substrate to produce light. Unlike with fluorescence, there is no inherent background luminescence in mammalian cells, which allows a luciferase assay to be extremely sensitive with a greater dynamic linear-response range.

Attributes of Luciferase Reporter Assay Technology

INDIGO’s reporter assays utilize bio-luminescence as the detection method. Because there is no inherent background luminescence in mammalian cells or culture media, the sensitivity and dynamic linear-response range of luminescence assays are superior to those of analogous fluorescence-based assays.

Of particular importance to HTS users, it is very rare to encounter a test compound with inherent light emission properties (i.e., chemi-luminescence or phosphorescence). Hence, luminescence-based assays do not suffer from false signals emanating from the test compounds themselves. This is in sharp contrast to fluorescence-based assays.

It is not uncommon for test compounds, regardless of their derivation (such as synthetic small molecules or natural products), to exhibit some level of endogenous fluorescence. Colored test compounds can be particularly problematic. Further, when deployed in primary screening campaigns, test compounds are typically assayed at concentrations 1,000 to 10,000-fold higher than the physiological concentration of natural ligands. Therefore, test compounds producing even low-level fluorescence may contribute inordinately high background, resulting in an erroneous quantitative score (false-positive or false-negative) in a functional assay.

Applications for INDIGO’s Luciferase Reporter Assays


Drug Discovery

Streamline the drug discovery process with INDIGO’s Luciferase Reporter Assays and develop safer, more effective pharmaceutical agents in record time.

Researcher sampling water for environmental testing

Environmental Testing

Effectively assess the toxicity of new chemicals, contaminants of emerging concern, and their cumulative effects on the environment with INDIGO’s Luciferase Reporter Assays.


Disease State Targets

Quickly gain insights into the mechanisms underlying the involvement of key receptors in various diseases with INDIGO’s comprehensive Luciferase Reporter Assays portfolio.

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See What Our Customers Have to Say

These assays don’t require any optimization as far as growth conditions of the cells…you thaw the cells, treat them, and get an IC50 or an activity readout the next day, which is very convenient.


Principal Scientist

The fact that they do have this comprehensive panel…essentially you can pick and choose which of the members of the panel you want to run.


Indigo Biosciences is making experiment design simple to navigate and easy to tailor depending on your needs.


Associate Director

Interested to know more about nuclear receptor assays?

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