Animal imaging sources have become an indispensable material for biological sciences. Specifically, gene-encoded biological probes serve as stable and high-performance tools to visualize cellular fate in living animals. We use a somatic cell cloning technique to create new green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing Jinhua pigs with a miniature body size, and characterized the expression profile in various tissues/organs and ex vivo culture conditions. The born GFP-transgenic pig demonstrate an organ/tissue-dependent expression pattern. Strong GFP expression is observed in the skeletal muscle, pancreas, heart, and kidney. Regarding cellular levels, bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells, hepatocytes, and islet cells of the pancreas also show sufficient expression with the unique pattern. Moreover, the cloned pigs demonstrate normal growth and fertility, and the introduced GFP gene is stably transmitted to pigs in subsequent generations. The new GFP-expressing Jinhua pigs may be used as new cellular/tissue light resources for biological imaging in preclinical research fields such as tissue engineering, experimental regenerative medicine, and transplantation.
We developed the Alb-DsRed2 transgenic (Tg) rat designed with liver-specific expression of the red fluorescent protein, DsRed2. Herein, we report high expression of DsRed2 in neonate liver of both sexes, although they were sexually dimorphic and exhibited a male-specific pattern in adult rats. In an effort to examine the expression in each animal under development, we employed an in vivo Bio-imaging system to quantitatively estimate hepatic DsRed2 expression levels. The temporal profiles pertaining to DsRed expression were similar in male and female Tg rats until 28 days old. The levels in both sexes decreased gradually following birth, and were not detectable at 21 days. Subsequently, expression in males increased again at 35 days and was maintained at a persistently high level thereafter. On the other hand, expression in females disappeared steadily. Although hepatic DsRed expression levels in gonadectomized Tg rats was not significantly different, DsRed expression in hypophysectomized female Tg rats appeared dramatically 72 hr following operation. Hepatocytes were collected from adult Tg rats and cultured in conditioning medium. DsRed expression in female hepatocytes could be detected 72 hr following culturing. These results suggest that hepatic DsRed expression in female rats is regulated in vivo by the pituitary. This report is shows use of Alb-DsRed2 Tg rats in conjunction with a novel bio-imaging system represents a powerful experimental system.
GFP is a fluorescent product of the jellyfish Aequorea victoria and has been used for a variety of biological experiments as a reporter molecule. While GFP possesses advantages for the non-invasive imaging of viable cells, GFP-positive cells are still considered potential xeno-antigens. It is difficult to observe the precise fate of transplanted cells/organs in recipients without immunological control. The aim of this study was to determine whether intrathymic injection of GFP to recipients and the depletion of peripheral lymphocytes could lead to donor-specific unresponsiveness to GFP-expressed cell. LEW rats were administered intraperitoneally with 0.2 ml of anti-rat lymphocyte serum (ALS) 1 day prior to intrathymic injection of donor splenocytes or adeno-GFP vector. Donor cells and vector were non-invasively inoculated into the thymus under high frequency ultrasound imaging using an echo-guide. All animals subsequently received a 7 days GFP-expressed skin graft from the same genetic background GFP LEW transgenic rat. Skin graft survival was greater in rats injected with donor splenocytes (23.6+/-9.1) compared with adeno-GFP (13.0+/-3.7) or untreated control rats (9.5+/-1.0). Intrathymic injection of donor antigen into adult rats can induce donor-specific unresponsiveness. Donor cells can be observed for a long-term in recipients with normal immunity using this strategy.
In vivo imaging strategies provide cellular and molecular events in real time that helps us to understand biological processes in living animals. The development of molecular tags such as green fluorescent proteins and luciferase from the firefly Photinus pyralis has lead to a revolution in the visualization of complex biochemical processes. We developed a novel inbred transgenic rat strain containing firefly luciferase based on the transgenic (Tg) technique in rats. This Tg rat expressed the luciferase gene ubiquitously under control of the ROSA26 promoter. Cellular immune responsiveness against the luciferase protein was evaluated using conventional skin grafting and resulted in the long-term acceptance of Tg rat skin on wild-type rats. Strikingly, organ transplant with heart and small bowel demonstrated organ viability and graft survival, suggesting that cells from luciferase-Tg are transplantable to track their fate. Taking advantage of the less immunogenic luciferase, we also tested the role of hepatocyte-infusion in a liver injury model, and bone marrow-derived cells in a skin defect model. Employed in conjunction with modern advances in optical imaging, this luciferase-Tg rat system provides an innovative animal tool and a new means of facilitating biomedical research such as in the case of regeneration medicine.