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Radiology. 1997 Aug;204(2):425-9.

MR imaging and scintigraphy of gene expression through melanin induction.

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Department of Radiology, Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown 02129, USA.



To determine whether an expression vector that encodes for human tyrosinase, the key enzyme in the melanin production pathway, can be used to image gene expression with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and scintigraphy.


Mouse fibroblasts and human embryonal kidney cells were transfected with an expression vector that contained a complete complementary DNA sequence that encodes the human tyrosinase gene (pcDNA3tyr). Transfected cells were assayed for messenger RNA presence, melanin staining, and indium-111 binding; scintigraphy and MR imaging were performed.


Transfected cells contained tyrosinase messenger RNA and stained positively for melanin. Transfected cells had a higher In-111 binding capacity than nontransfected cells, a difference readily detectable with scintigraphy. MR imaging showed transfected cells to have markedly higher signal intensity after gene transfer than nontransfected cells.


Gene transfer and expression in cell culture can be detected with MR imaging and scintigraphy. The proposed strategy of using an imaging marker gene may have a substantial effect on the noninvasive imaging of gene therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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