Chemiluminescent Protease Probe for Rapid, Sensitive, and Inexpensive Detection of Live Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Brett M. Babin, Gabriela Fernandez-Cuervo, Jessica Sheng, Ori Green, Alvaro A. Ordonez, Mitchell L. Turner, Laura J. Keller, Sanjay K. Jain, Doron Shabat, Matthew Bogyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tuberculosis (TB) is a top-ten cause of death worldwide. Successful treatment is often limited by insufficient diagnostic capabilities, especially at the point of care in low-resource settings. The ideal diagnostic must be fast, be cheap, and require minimal clinical resources while providing high sensitivity, selectivity, and the ability to differentiate live from dead bacteria. We describe here the development of a fast, luminescent, and affordable sensor of Hip1 (FLASH) for detecting and monitoring drug susceptibility of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). FLASH is a selective chemiluminescent substrate for the Mtb protease Hip1 that, when processed, produces visible light that can be measured with a high signal-to-noise ratio using inexpensive sensors. FLASH is sensitive to fmol of recombinant Hip1 enzyme in vitro and can detect as few as thousands of Mtb cells in culture or in human sputum samples within minutes. The probe is highly selective for Mtb compared to other nontuberculous mycobacteria and can distinguish live from dead cells. Importantly, FLASH can be used to measure antibiotic killing of Mtb in culture with greatly accelerated timelines compared to traditional protocols. Overall, FLASH has the potential to enhance both TB diagnostics and drug resistance monitoring in resource-limited settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-814
Number of pages12
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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