Scientific reports

In vivo bioimaging with tissue-specific transcription factor activated luciferase reporters.

PMID 26138224


The application of transcription factor activated luciferase reporter cassettes in vitro is widespread but potential for in vivo application has not yet been realized. Bioluminescence imaging enables non-invasive tracking of gene expression in transfected tissues of living rodents. However the mature immune response limits luciferase expression when delivered in adulthood. We present a novel approach of tissue-targeted delivery of transcription factor activated luciferase reporter lentiviruses to neonatal rodents as an alternative to the existing technology of generating germline transgenic light producing rodents. At this age, neonates acquire immune tolerance to the conditionally responsive luciferase reporter. This simple and transferrable procedure permits surrogate quantitation of transcription factor activity over the lifetime of the animal. We show principal efficacy by temporally quantifying NFκB activity in the brain, liver and lungs of somatotransgenic reporter mice subjected to lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inflammation. This response is ablated in Tlr4(-/-) mice or when co-administered with the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid analogue dexamethasone. Furthermore, we show the malleability of this technology by quantifying NFκB-mediated luciferase expression in outbred rats. Finally, we use somatotransgenic bioimaging to longitudinally quantify LPS- and ActivinA-induced upregulation of liver specific glucocorticoid receptor and Smad2/3 reporter constructs in somatotransgenic mice, respectively.

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