The EZC-prostate model: noninvasive prostate imaging in living mice

Mol Endocrinol. 2004 Mar;18(3):722-32. doi: 10.1210/me.2003-0316. Epub 2003 Dec 18.


Recently, progress in the development of prostate-specific promoters and high resolution imaging techniques has made real-time monitoring of transgenic expression possible, opening a vista of potentially important in vivo models of prostate disease. Herein, we describe a novel prostate reporter model, called the EZC-prostate model that permits both ex vivo and in vivo imaging of the prostate using a sensitive charge-coupled device. Firefly luciferase and enhanced green fluorescent protein were targeted to the prostate epithelium using the composite human kallikrein 2 (hK2)-based promoter, hK2-E3/P. In EZC-prostate mice, the ventral and dorsal/lateral prostate lobes were brilliant green under fluorescence microscopy, with expression localized to the secretory epithelium. In contrast, enhanced green fluorescent protein was undetectable in the anterior lobes of prostate, seminal vesicles, testes, liver, lung, and brain. The kinetics of luciferase activity in intact and castrated living mice monitored with the IVIS charge-coupled device-based imaging system confirmed that firefly luciferase expression was largely prostate restricted, increased with age up to 24 wk, and was androgen dependent. Decreases in reporter expression after 24 wk may reflect well known, age-related decreases in androgen signaling with age in humans. Ex vivo imaging of microdissected animals further confirmed that the luminescence detected in living mice emanated predominately from the prostate, with minor signals originating from the testes and cecum. These data demonstrate that the hK2-E3/P promoter directs strong prostate-specific expression in a transgenic mouse model. Multigenic models, generated by crosses with various hyperplastic and neoplastic prostate disease models, could potentially provide powerful new tools in longitudinal monitoring of changes in prostate size, androgen signaling, metastases, or response to novel therapies without sacrificing large cohorts of animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement* / methods
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic*
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Orchiectomy
  • Organ Specificity
  • Ovariectomy
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Prostate / physiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Tissue Kallikreins / genetics
  • Tissue Kallikreins / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luciferases
  • Tissue Kallikreins