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11 March 2015 Validating tyrosinase homologue MelA as a photoacoustic reporter gene for imaging Escherichia coli
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Antibiotic drug resistance is a major worldwide issue. Development of new therapies against pathogenic bacteria requires appropriate research tools for replicating and characterizing infections. Previously fluorescence and bioluminescence modalities have been used to image infectious burden in animal models but scattering significantly limits imaging depth and resolution. We hypothesize that photoacoustic imaging, which has improved depth-toresolution ratio, could be useful for visualizing MelA-expressing bacteria since MelA is a bacterial tyrosinase homologue involved in melanin production. Using an inducible expression system, E. coli expressing MelA were visibly black in liquid culture. Phosphate buffered saline (PBS), MelA-expressing bacteria (at different dilutions in PBS), and chicken embryo blood were injected in plastic tubes which were imaged using a VisualSonics Vevo LAZR system. Photoacoustic imaging at 6 different wavelengths (680, 700, 750, 800, 850 and 900nm) enabled spectral de-mixing to distinguish melanin signals from blood. The signal to noise ratio of 9x diluted MelA bacteria was 55, suggesting that ~20 bacteria cells could be detected with our system. When MelA bacteria were injected as a 100 μL bolus into a chicken embryo, photoacoustic signals from deoxy- and oxy- hemoglobin as well as MelA-expressing bacteria could be separated and overlaid on an ultrasound image, allowing visualization of the bacterial location. Photoacoustic imaging may be a useful tool for visualizing bacterial infections and further work incorporating photoacoustic reporters into infectious bacterial strains is warranted.
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Robert J. Paproski, Yan Li, Quinn Barber, John D. Lewis, Robert Campbell, and Roger Zemp "Validating tyrosinase homologue MelA as a photoacoustic reporter gene for imaging Escherichia coli", Proc. SPIE 9323, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2015, 93232H (11 March 2015);


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