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1.  Optimization of Multimodal Imaging of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Using the Human Sodium Iodide Symporter for PET and Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94833.
The use of stably integrated reporter gene imaging provides a manner to monitor the in vivo fate of engrafted cells over time in a non-invasive manner. Here, we optimized multimodal imaging (small-animal PET, Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) and bioluminescence imaging (BLI)) of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), by means of the human sodium iodide symporter (hNIS) and firefly luciferase (Fluc) as reporters.
First, two multicistronic lentiviral vectors (LV) were generated for multimodal imaging: BLI, 124I PET/SPECT and CLI. Expression of the imaging reporter genes was validated in vitro using 99mTcO4− radioligand uptake experiments and BLI. Uptake kinetics, specificity and tracer elution were determined as well as the effect of the transduction process on the cell's differentiation capacity. MSCs expressing the LV were injected intravenously or subcutaneously and imaged using small-animal PET, CLI and BLI.
The expression of both imaging reporter genes was functional and specific. An elution of 99mTcO4− from the cells was observed, with 31% retention after 3 h. After labeling cells with 124I in vitro, a significantly higher CLI signal was noted in hNIS expressing murine MSCs. Furthermore, it was possible to visualize cells injected intravenously using BLI or subcutaneously in mice, using 124I small-animal PET, CLI and BLI.
This study identifies hNIS as a suitable reporter gene for molecular imaging with PET and CLI, as confirmed with BLI through the expression of Fluc. It supports the potential for a wider application of hNIS reporter gene imaging and future clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3991630  PMID: 24747914
2.  Bioluminescence imaging of therapy response does not correlate with FDG-PET response in a mouse model of Burkitt lymphoma 
Since the development and evaluation of novel anti-cancer therapies require molecular insight in the disease state, both FDG-PET and BLI imaging were evaluated in a Burkitt B-cell lymphoma xenograft model treated with cyclophosphamide or temsirolimus. Daudi xenograft mice were treated with either cyclophosphamide or temsirolimus and imaged with BLI and FDG-PET on d0 (before treatment), d2, d4, d7, d9 and d14 following the start of therapy. Besides tumor volume changes, therapy response was assessed with immunohistochemical analysis (apoptosis). BLI revealed a flare following both therapeutics that was significantly higher when compared to control tumors. FDG-PET decreased immediatelly, long before the tumor reduced in size. Late after therapy, BLI signal intensities decreased significantly compared to baseline subsequent to tumor size reduction while apoptosis was immediately induced following both treatment regimen. Unlike FDG, BLI was not able to reflect reduced levels of viable cells and was not able to predict tumor size response and apoptosis response.
PMCID: PMC3477743  PMID: 23133822
Bioluminescence imaging; therapy response; FDG-PET
3.  Immunohistochemical detection of transgene expression in the brain using small epitope tags 
BMC Biotechnology  2010;10:16.
In vivo overexpression of proteins is a powerful approach to study their biological function, generate disease models or evaluate gene therapy approaches. In order to investigate an exogenously expressed protein, specific and sensitive detection is essential. Unfortunately, antibodies that allow histological detection of the protein of interest are not always readily available. The use of an epitope tag fused to the protein can circumvent this problem as well as provide the possibility to discriminate endogenous from overexpressed proteins. In order to minimize impact on the bioactivity and biodistribution of the overexpressed protein, preference is given to small tags.
In the present study, we evaluated several small epitope tags together with corresponding anti-tag antibodies for the detection of overexpressed proteins in rat brain, using eGFP as a reference. We generated several lentiviral vectors encoding eGFP with different N-terminally fused small epitope tags (AU1, flag, 3flag, HA, myc and V5). After confirmation of their functionality in cell culture, we injected these lentiviral vectors stereotactically into the striatum of rats and prepared paraformaldehyde fixed floating sections for immunohistochemical analysis. Using multiple antibodies and antibody dilutions per epitope tag, we extensively assessed the efficiency of several anti-tag antibodies for chromogenic immunohistochemical detection of the epitope tagged eGFPs by determining the proportion of immunoreactivity detected by anti-tag antibodies compared to anti-GFP antibody. Using fluorescence immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy, we also quantified the proportion of eGFP-positive cells detected by anti-tag antibodies. Our results show that all the examined small epitope tags could be detected by anti-tag antibodies both in cell extracts as well as in vivo, although to varying degrees depending on the tag and antibody used. Using the presented protocol, V5/anti-V5 and HA/HA11 tag/antibody combinations provided the most sensitive detection in brain tissue. We confirmed the applicability of these optimized in vivo tag detection conditions for a difficult to detect protein, firefly luciferase (fLuc), using lentiviral vector constructs expressing V5 tagged and 3flag tagged fLuc protein.
We show here that several small epitope tags are useful for immunohistochemical detection of exogenous proteins in vivo. Our study also provides a generic methodology which is broadly applicable for the detection of overexpressed transgenes in mammalian brain tissue.
PMCID: PMC2831034  PMID: 20167102
4.  Reporter gene-expressing bone marrow-derived stromal cells are immune-tolerated following implantation in the central nervous system of syngeneic immunocompetent mice 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:1.
Cell transplantation is likely to become an important therapeutic tool for the treatment of various traumatic and ischemic injuries to the central nervous system (CNS). However, in many pre-clinical cell therapy studies, reporter gene-assisted imaging of cellular implants in the CNS and potential reporter gene and/or cell-based immunogenicity, still remain challenging research topics.
In this study, we performed cell implantation experiments in the CNS of immunocompetent mice using autologous (syngeneic) luciferase-expressing bone marrow-derived stromal cells (BMSC-Luc) cultured from ROSA26-L-S-L-Luciferase transgenic mice, and BMSC-Luc genetically modified using a lentivirus encoding the enhanced green fluorescence protein (eGFP) and the puromycin resistance gene (Pac) (BMSC-Luc/eGFP/Pac). Both reporter gene-modified BMSC populations displayed high engraftment capacity in the CNS of immunocompetent mice, despite potential immunogenicity of introduced reporter proteins, as demonstrated by real-time bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and histological analysis at different time-points post-implantation. In contrast, both BMSC-Luc and BMSC-Luc/eGFP/Pac did not survive upon intramuscular cell implantation, as demonstrated by real-time BLI at different time-points post-implantation. In addition, ELISPOT analysis demonstrated the induction of IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T-cells upon intramuscular cell implantation, but not upon intracerebral cell implantation, indicating that BMSC-Luc and BMSC-Luc/eGFP/Pac are immune-tolerated in the CNS. However, in our experimental transplantation model, results also indicated that reporter gene-specific immune-reactive T-cell responses were not the main contributors to the immunological rejection of BMSC-Luc or BMSC-Luc/eGFP/Pac upon intramuscular cell implantation.
We here demonstrate that reporter gene-modified BMSC derived from ROSA26-L-S-L-Luciferase transgenic mice are immune-tolerated upon implantation in the CNS of syngeneic immunocompetent mice, providing a research model for studying survival and localisation of autologous BMSC implants in the CNS by real-time BLI and/or histological analysis in the absence of immunosuppressive therapy.
PMCID: PMC2630974  PMID: 19128466

Results 1-4 (4)