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Transgenic Res. 2014 Oct;23(5):779-93. doi: 10.1007/s11248-014-9814-z. Epub 2014 Jul 11.

Development and characterization of a new inbred transgenic rat strain expressing DsRed monomeric fluorescent protein.

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Cell Therapy Program, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada,


The inbred rat is a suitable model for studying human disease and because of its larger size is more amenable to complex surgical manipulation than the mouse. While the rodent fulfills many of the criteria for transplantation research, an important requirement is the ability to mark and track donors cells and assess organ viability. However, tracking ability is limited by the availability of transgenic (Tg) rats that express suitable luminescent or fluorescent proteins. Red fluorescent protein cloned from Discosoma coral (DsRed) has several advantages over other fluorescent proteins, including in vivo detection in the whole animal and ex vivo visualization in organs as there is no interference with autofluorescence. We generated and characterized a novel inbred Tg Lewis rat strain expressing DsRed monomeric (DsRed mono) fluorescent protein under the control of a ubiquitously expressed ROSA26 promoter. DsRed mono Tg rats ubiquitously expressed the marker gene as detected by RT-PCR but the protein was expressed at varying levels in different organs. Conventional skin grafting experiments showed acceptance of DsRed monomeric Tg rat skin on wild-type rats for more than 30 days. Cardiac transplantation of DsRed monomeric Tg rat hearts into wild-type recipients further showed graft acceptance and long-term organ viability (>6 months). The DsRed monomeric Tg rat provides marked cells and/or organs that can be followed for long periods without immune rejection and therefore is a suitable model to investigate cell tracking and organ transplantation.

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