Assays for noninvasive imaging of reporter gene expression

Nucl Med Biol. 1999 Jul;26(5):481-90. doi: 10.1016/s0969-8051(99)00021-9.


Repeated, noninvasive imaging of reporter gene expression is emerging as a valuable tool for monitoring the expression of genes in animals and humans. Monitoring of organ/cell transplantation in living animals and humans, and the assessment of environmental, behavioral, and pharmacologic modulation of gene expression in transgenic animals should soon be possible. The earliest clinical application is likely to be monitoring human gene therapy in tumors transduced with the herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk) suicide gene. Several candidate assays for imaging reporter gene expression have been studied, utilizing cytosine deaminase (CD), HSV1-tk, and dopamine 2 receptor (D2R) as reporter genes. For the HSV1-tk reporter gene, both uracil nucleoside derivatives (e.g., 5-iodo-2'-fluoro-2'-deoxy-1-beta-D-arabinofuranosyl-5-iodouracil [FIAU] labeled with 124I, 131I) and acycloguanosine derivatives [e.g., 8-[18F]fluoro-9-[[2-hydroxy-1-(hydroxymethyl)ethoxy]methyl]guanine (8-[18F]-fluoroganciclovir) ([18F]FGCV), 9-[(3-[18F]fluoro-1-hydroxy-2-propoxy)methyl]guanine ([18F]FHPG)] have been investigated as reporter probes. For the D2R reporter gene, a derivative of spiperone [3-(2'-[18F]-Fluoroethyl)spiperone ([18F]FESP)] has been used with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. In this review, the principles and specific assays for imaging reporter gene expression are presented and discussed. Specific examples utilizing adenoviral-mediated delivery of a reporter gene as well as tumors expressing reporter genes are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Deuterium
  • Enzymes / analysis
  • Enzymes / biosynthesis
  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Recombinant Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis


  • Enzymes
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Deuterium