The ability to monitor reporter gene expression in living animals and in patients will permit longitudinal examinations both of somatically transferred DNA in experimental animals and patients and of transgenic constructs expressed in experimental animals. If investigators can non-invasively monitor the organ and tissue specificity, the magnitude and the duration of gene expression from somatically transferred DNA and from transgenes, conceptually new experimental paradigms will be possible. If clinicians can non-invasively monitor the location, extent and duration of somatically transferred genes, they will be better able to determine the correlations between expression of therapeutic genes and clinical outcomes. We have developed two reporter gene systems for in vivo reporter gene imaging in which the protein products of the reporter genes sequester positron-emitting reporter probes. The "PET reporter gene" dependent sequestration of the "PET reporter probes" is subsequently measured in living animals by Positron Emission Tomography (PET). We describe here the principles of PET reporter gene/PET reporter probe in vivo imaging, the development of two imaging systems, and the validation of their ability to non-invasively, quantitatively and repetitively image reporter gene expression in murine viral gene transfer and transgenic models.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.