23 February 2012 Photoacoustic molecular imaging of ferritin as a reporter gene
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Spectral analysis of photoacoustic (PA) molecular imaging (PMI) of ferritin expressed in human melanoma cells (SK-24) was performed in vitro. Ferritin is a ubiquitously expressed protein which stores iron that can be detected by PA imaging, allowing ferritin to act as a reporter gene. To over-express ferritin, SK-24 cells were co-transfected with plasmid expressing Heavy chain ferritin (H-FT) and plasmid expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (pEGFP-C1) using LipofectamineTM 2000. Non-transfected SK-24 cells served as a negative control. Fluorescent imaging of EGFP confirmed transfection and transgene expression in co-transfected cells. To detect iron accumulation in SK-24 cells, a focused high frequency ultrasonic transducer (60 MHz, f/1.5), synchronized to a pulsed laser (<20mJ/cm2), was used to scan the PA signal from 680 nm to 950 nm (in 10 nm increments) from the surface of the 6-well culturing plate. PA signal intensity from H-FT transfected SK-24 cells was not different from that of non-transfected SK-24 cells at wavelengths less than 770 nm, but was over 4 dB higher than non-transfected SK-24 cells at 850 ~ 950 nm. Fluorescent microscopy indicates significant accumulation of ferritin in H-FT transfected SK-24 cells, with little ferritin expression in non-transfected SK-24 cells. The PA spectral analysis clearly differentiates transfected SK-24 cells from nontransfected SK-24 cells with significantly increased iron signal at 850 ~ 950 nm, and these increased signals were associated with transfection of H-FT plasmid. As such, the feasibility of ferritin as a reporter gene for PMI has been demonstrated in vitro. The use of ferritin as a reporter gene represents a new concept for PA imaging, and may provide various opportunities for molecular imaging and basic science research.
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S. Ha, S. Ha, A. Carson, A. Carson, K. Kim, K. Kim, "Photoacoustic molecular imaging of ferritin as a reporter gene", Proc. SPIE 8223, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2012, 82232N (23 February 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.906802; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.906802

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