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1.  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
2.  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-╬│-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
3.  Comparison of lentiviral vector titration methods 
BMC Biotechnology  2006;6:34.
Lentiviral vectors are efficient vehicles for stable gene transfer in dividing and non-dividing cells. Several improvements in vector design to increase biosafety and transgene expression, have led to the approval of these vectors for use in clinical studies. Methods are required to analyze the quality of lentiviral vector production, the efficiency of gene transfer and the extent of therapeutic gene expression.
We compared lentiviral vector titration methods that measure pg p24/ml, RNA equivalents/ml, transducing units (TU/ml) or mRNA equivalents. The amount of genomic RNA in vector particles proves to be reliable to assess the production quality of vectors encoding non-fluorescent proteins. However, the RNA and p24 titers of concentrated vectors are rather poor in predicting transduction efficiency, due to the high variability of vector production based on transient transfection. Moreover, we demonstrate that transgenic mRNA levels correlate well with TU and can be used for functional titration of non-fluorescent transgenes.
The different titration methods have specific advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the experimental set-up one titration method should be preferred over the others.
PMCID: PMC1534021  PMID: 16836756

Results 1-3 (3)