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Mol Imaging. 2006 Oct-Dec;5(4):465-74.

Second-generation triple reporter for bioluminescence, micro-positron emission tomography, and fluorescence imaging.

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  • 1Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Bioluminescence, positron emission tomography (PET), and fluorescence modalities are currently available for noninvasive imaging in vivo, each with its own merits. To exploit the combined strengths of each and facilitate multimodality imaging, we engineered a dual-reporter construct in which firefly luciferase (FLuc) and a 12-amino acid nonstructural linker were fused in frame to the N-terminus of a mutant herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (mNLS-SR39TK) kinetically enhanced for positron emission tomography (PET). Furthermore, a triple-reporter construct was developed in which monster green fluorescent protein (MGFP), a recently available enhanced fluorescent protein, was introduced into the fusion vector downstream of an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) to allow analysis by fluorescence microscopy or flow cytometry without compromising the specific activities of the upstream fusion components. FLuc bioluminescence was measured with a cooled charge-coupled device camera and mNLS-SR39TK activity by 9-[4-[(18)F]fluoro-3-(hydroxymethyl) butyl guanine ((18)F-FHBG) microPET or (3)H-penciclovir net accumulation. Importantly, HeLa cells transiently transfected with the FLuc-mNLS-SR39TK-IRES-MGFP triple reporter retained the same specific activities of the FLuc-mNLS-SR39TK heteroenzyme and the individual unfused enzymes with no change in protein half-lives. The presence of the IRES-MGFP modestly decreased upstream heteroprotein expression. In living mice, somatic gene transfer of a ubiquitin promoter-driven FLuc-mNLS-SR39TK-IRES-MGFP plasmid showed a > 1,000-fold increase in liver photon flux and a > 2-fold increase in liver retention of (18)F-FHBG by microPET compared with mice treated with control plasmid. Multifocal hepatocellular fluorescence was readily observed by standard confocal microscopy. This second-generation triple reporter incorporating enhanced components enables bioluminescence, PET, and fluorescence imaging of cells and living animals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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