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Neoplasia. 1999 Oct;1(4):315-20.

A general approach to the non-invasive imaging of transgenes using cis-linked herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase.

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Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Non-invasive imaging of gene expression opens new prospects for the study of transgenic animals and the implementation of genetically based therapies in patients. We have sought to establish a general paradigm to enable whole body non-invasive imaging of any transgene. We show that the expression and imaging of HSV1-tk (a marker gene) can be used to monitor the expression of the LacZ gene (a second gene) under the transcriptional control of a single promoter within a bicistronic unit that includes a type II internal ribosomal entry site. In cells bearing a single copy of the vector, the expression of the two genes is proportional and constant, both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that non-invasive imaging of HSV1-tk gene accurately reflects the topology and activity of the other cis-linked transgene.

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