Theranostics 2012; 2(4):413-423. doi:10.7150/thno.3940 This issue Cite
Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, USA
Molecular imaging is a newly emerged multiple disciplinary field that aims to visualize, characterize and quantitatively measure biological processes at cellular and molecular levels in humans and other living systems. A reporter gene is a piece of DNA encoding reporter protein, which presents as a readily measurable phenotype that can be distinguished easily from the background of endogenous protein. After being transferred into cells of organ systems (transgenes), the reporter gene can be utilized to visualize transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression, protein-protein interactions, or trafficking of proteins or cells in living subjects. Herein, we review previous classification of reporter genes and regroup the reporter gene based imaging as basic, inducible and activatable, based on the regulation of reporter gene transcription and post-translational modification of reporter proteins. We then focus on activatable reporters, in which the signal can be activated at the posttranslational level for visualizing protein-protein interactions, protein phosphorylation or tertiary structure changes. The applications of several types of activatable reporters will also be summarized. We conclude that activatable reporter imaging can benefit both basic biomedical research and drug development.
Keywords: Molecular imaging, reporter gene, activatable, optical imaging, PET