Title: Ultrasound imaging of gene expression in mammalian cells
Author: Arash Farhadi, Gabrielle H. Ho, Daniel P. Sawyer, Raymond W. Bourdeau, Mikhail G. Shapiro
Issue&Volume: Volume 365 Issue 6460
The study of cellular processes occurring inside intact organisms requires methods to visualize cellular functions such as gene expression in deep tissues. Ultrasound is a widely used biomedical technology enabling noninvasive imaging with high spatial and temporal resolution. However, no genetically encoded molecular reporters are available to connect ultrasound contrast to gene expression in mammalian cells. To address this limitation, we introduce mammalian acoustic reporter genes. Starting with a gene cluster derived from bacteria, we engineered a eukaryotic genetic program whose introduction into mammalian cells results in the expression of intracellular air-filled protein nanostructures called gas vesicles, which produce ultrasound contrast. Mammalian acoustic reporter genes allow cells to be visualized at volumetric densities below 0.5% and permit high-resolution imaging of gene expression in living animals.