NovaBright™ Chemiluminescent Reporter Gene Assays 

Ultrasensitive Reporter Gene Assays

NovaBright™ reporter gene assays offer chemiluminescent measurement of reporter gene activity that is more sensitive than colorimetric or fluorescent detection. NovaBright™ kits are available for the most common reporter genes, and are optimized to yield consistent results with high sensitivity over a wide dynamic range spanning femtogram to nanogram amounts of reporter.

  • High Sensitivity
  • Wide Dynamic Range
  • Three Easy-to-Use Formats


View the NovaBright™ Reporter Gene Assay Selection Guide

Reporter Gene Assays

Studying the Regulation of Gene Expression
Reporter gene assays are invaluable for studying the regulation of gene expression by cis-acting factors (gene regulatory elements) or trans-acting factors (transcription factors or exogenous regulators). In these assays, the reporter gene acts as a surrogate for the coding region of the gene under study.

The reporter gene construct contains one or more gene regulatory elements being analyzed, the structural sequence of the reporter gene, and the sequences required for the formation of functional mRNA. Upon introduction of the reporter construct into cells, expression levels of the reporter gene are monitored through a direct assay of the reporter protein’s enzymatic activity.

Ultra Sensitivity
The sensitivity of each reporter gene assay is a function of several factors including detection method, reporter mRNA and protein turnover, and endogenous (background) levels of the reporter activity. Both protein turnover and levels of endogenous background vary with each reporter protein and the cell line used. Commonly used detection techniques utilize isotopic, colorimetric, fluorometric, or luminescent enzyme substrates and immunoassay-based procedures with isotopic, colorimetric, or chemiluminescent endpoints.

Common Reporter Genes

Beta-Galactosidase is traditionally detected with the colorimetric substrate o-nitrophenyl-β-D-galactopyranoside (ONPG) [1], and is often used in conjunction with other reporter genes to normalize transfection efficiency. As indicated in the table [web designer link to table], this colorimetric assay is less sensitive compared to many other reporter gene assays. With NovaBright™ 1,2-dioxetane chemiluminescent substrates for beta-galactosidase, the sensitivity is increased dramatically [2,3].


See More Common Reporter Genes +

Secreted Placental Alkaline Phosphatase
Secreted placental alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) is secreted by cells directly into the culture medium, and can be assayed simply by taking samples of cell culture medium. Secreted reporter proteins enable the nondestructive assay of cell culture medium, preserving cells for additional assays and enabling time-course monitoring of gene expression. SEAP is detected with both colorimetric and chemiluminescent substrates. NovaBright™ chemiluminescent SEAP reporter gene assays exhibit remarkable sensitivity and ease of use.


Luciferase has become increasingly popular as a reporter gene, especially for cotransfection experiments where it is important to normalize transfection efficiency. The NovaBright™ β-galactosidase and firefly luciferase dual enzyme reporter gene assay offers high sensitivity and a simple assay procedure, and enables the user to perform both measurements from a single aliquot of cell extract in the same reaction well or tube, which minimizes experimental error.

Comparison of Reporter Gene Assays

Reporter Gene
Detection MethodDetection LimitAdvantagesDisadvantages
Chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT)Isotopic,
5 x 107 molecules,
1 x 109 molecules
Widely used,
No radioactivity
High cost,
Low dynamic range,
Labor intensive,
High cost per assay
Beta-galactosidaseONPG (color),
MUG (Fluorescence),
NovaBright™ beta-galactosidase system,
NovaBright™ SEAP system
3 x 108 molecules,
6 x 105 molecules,
3 x 103 molecules
High sensitivity,
Wide dynamic range,
Poor sensitivity,
Human growth hormoneRadioimmunoassay3 x 108 moleculesSecreted into mediaRadioactivity,
High cost per assay,
Low sensitivity
LuciferaseNovaBright™ dual beta-galactosidase and firefly luciferase system103–104 moleculesAssay simplicity,
Wide dynamic range
Protein instability
Secreted placental alkaline phosphatasepNPP (color),
NovaBright™ SEAP systems
1 x 108 molecules,
3 x 104 molecules
Secreted into media,
High Sensitivity,
Wide dynamic range
Poor sensitivity


  1. Alam J, Cook JL (1990) Reporter genes: application to the study of mammalian gene transcription. Anal Biochem 188:245–254.
  2. Bronstein I, Martin CS, Fortin JJ, Olesen CE, Voyta JC (1996) Chemiluminescence: Sensitive detection technology for reporter gene assays. Clin Chem 42:1542–1546.
  3. Bronstein I, Fortin J, Stanley PE, Stewart GS, Kricka LJ (1994) Chemiluminescent and bioluminescent reporter gene assays. Anal Biochem 219:169–181.