The small engineered luciferase NanoLuc has rapidly become a powerful tool in the fields of biochemistry, chemical biology, and cell biology due to its exceptional brightness and stability. The continuously expanding NanoLuc toolbox has been employed in applications ranging from biosensors to molecular and cellular imaging, and currently includes split complementation variants, engineering techniques for spectral tuning, and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer-based concepts. In this review, we provide an overview of state-of-the-art NanoLuc-based sensors and switches with a focus on the underlying protein engineering approaches. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various strategies with respect to sensor sensitivity, modularity, and dynamic range of the sensor and provide a perspective on future strategies and applications.

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