Biomarker system for studying muscle, stem cells, and cancer in vivo

FASEB J. 2009 Aug;23(8):2681-90. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-128116. Epub 2009 Mar 30.


Bioluminescent reporter genes are sensitive in situ tools for following disease progression in preclinical models, albeit they are subject to scattering and absorption in deep tissues. We have generated a bicistronic Cre/LoxP reporter mouse line that pairs the expression of firefly luciferase with quantifiable expression of a human placental alkaline phosphatase that is secreted into the serum (SeAP). With the use of this dual-modality bioreporter with a novel, inducible Pax7-CreER line for tracking muscle satellite cells, we demonstrate the longitudinal kinetics of muscle stem cell turnover, accounting for a doubling of the signal from satellite cell and progeny every 3.93 wk in the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. We also show that this dual-modality bioreporter can be incorporated in preclinical cancer models, whereby SeAP activity is reflective of tumor burden. Thus, this dual bioreporter permits both spatial localization and accurate quantification of biological processes in vivo even when the tissue of interest is deep within the animal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / genetics
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Luciferases, Firefly / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Sarcoma, Experimental / genetics*
  • Sarcoma, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / metabolism*


  • DNA Primers
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor
  • Pax7 protein, mouse
  • Luciferases, Firefly
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • alkaline phosphatase, placental