A multimodality reporter gene for monitoring transplanted stem cells

Zhijun Pei, Xiaoli Lan, Zhen Cheng, Chunxia Qin, Peng Wang, Yong He, Tzu-Chen Yen, Yueli Tian, Fabian Pius Mghanga, Yongxue Zhang
Nuclear Medicine and Biology 2012, 39 (6): 813-20

INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study is to explore the feasibility of a triple-fused reporter gene, termed TGF [herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk), enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) and firefly luciferase (Fluc)], to monitor stem cells using multimodality molecular imaging.

METHODS: A recombinant adenovirus vector carrying the triple-fused reporter gene (Ad5-TGF) was constructed. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) were transfected with different virus titers of Ad5-TGF [multiplicities of infection (MOIs) were 0, 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250]. The mRNA and protein expressions of HSV1-tk, eGFP and Fluc in the transfected BMSCs were evaluated using polymerase chain reaction and Western blot. After the transfection of the BMSCs with different virus titers of Ad5-TGF (MOIs were 25, 50, 75, 100 and 125), their uptake rates of (131)I-FIAU were measured. Whole-body fluorescence, bioluminescence and micro-positron emission tomography (PET) images were acquired 1 day after the transfected BMSCs were injected into the left forelimb of rats.

RESULTS: After the transfection with different titers of Ad5-TGF, the positive transfection rate reached a peak (70%) when the MOI was 100. HSV1-tk, eGFP and Fluc mRNA and protein were detected in the Ad5-TGF-transfected BMSCs, which implies their successful transfection and expression. The BMSCs uptake of (131)I-FIAU increased with the adenovirus titer and incubation time and reached a plateau (approximately 5.3%) after 3 h. Strong signals were observed in the injected left forearms in the fluorescence, bioluminescence and micro-PET images.

CONCLUSIONS: A triple-fused reporter gene, TGF, can be used as a multifunctional molecular probe for multimodality imaging.

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