Sensitive in vivo imaging of T cells using a membrane-bound Gaussia princeps luciferase.
ABSTRACT: We developed a new approach to bioluminescent T cell imaging using a membrane-anchored form of the Gaussia luciferase (GLuc) enzyme, termed extGLuc, which we could stably express in both mouse and human primary T cells. In vitro, extGLuc+ cells emitted significantly higher bioluminescent signal when compared to cells expressing GLuc, Renilla luciferase (RLuc) or membrane-anchored RLuc (extRLuc). In vivo, mouse extGLuc+ T cells showed higher bioluminescent signal when compared to GLuc+ and RLuc+ T cells. Application of this imaging approach to human T cells genetically modified to express tumor-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) enabled us to show in vivo CAR-mediated T cell accumulation in tumor, T cell persistence over time and concomitant imaging of T cells and tumor cells modified to express firefly luciferase. This sensitive imaging technology has application to many in vivo cell-based studies in a wide array of mouse models.
Project description:Gaussia princeps luciferase (GLuc) generates an intense burst of blue light when exposed to coelenterazine in the absence of ATP. Here we show that this 5-disulfide containing enzyme can be used as a facile and convenient substrate for studies of oxidative protein folding. Reduced GLuc (rGLuc), with 10 free cysteine residues, is completely inactive as a luciferase but >60% bioluminescence activity, compared to controls, can be recovered using a range of oxidizing regimens in the absence of the exogenous shuffling activity of protein disulfide isomerase (PDI). The sulfhydryl oxidase QSOX1 can be assayed using rGLuc in a simple bioluminescence plate reader format. Similarly, low concentrations of rGLuc can be oxidized by millimolar levels of dehydroascorbate, hydrogen peroxide or much lower concentrations of sodium tetrathionate. The oxidative refolding of rGLuc in the presence of a range of glutathione redox buffers is only marginally accelerated by micromolar levels of PDI. This modest rate enhancement probably results from a relatively simple disulfide connectivity in native GLuc; reflecting two homologous domains each carrying two disulfide bonds with a single interdomain disulfide. When GLuc is reoxidized under denaturing conditions the resulting scrambled protein (sGLuc) can be used in a sensitive bioluminescence assay for reduced PDI in the absence of added exogenous thiols. Finally, the general facility by which rGLuc can recover bioluminescent activity in vitro provides a sensitive method for the assessment of inhibitors of oxidative protein folding.
Project description:Antibody fragments (scFvs) fused to luciferase reporter proteins have been used as highly sensitive optical imaging probes. Gaussia princeps luciferase (GLuc) is an attractive choice for a reporter protein because it is small and bright and does not require ATP to stimulate bioluminescence-producing reactions. Both GLuc and scFv proteins contain multiple disulfide bonds, and consequently the production of active and properly folded GLuc-scFv fusions is challenging. We therefore produced both proteins individually in active form, followed by covalent coupling to produce the intended conjugate. We used an Escherichia coli-based cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) platform to produce GLuc and scFv proteins containing non-natural amino acids (nnAAs) for subsequent conjugation by azide-alkyne click chemistry. GLuc mutants with exposed alkyne reactive groups were produced by global replacement of methionine residues in CFPS. Antibody fragment scFvs contained a single exposed azide group using a scheme for site-specific incorporation of tyrosine analogs. Incorporation of tyrosine analogs at specific sites in proteins was performed using an engineered orthogonal tRNA-tRNA synthetase pair from an archaebacterium. The unique azide and alkyne side chains in GLuc and the antibody fragment scFv facilitated conjugation by click chemistry. GLuc-scFv conjugates were shown to differentiate between cells expressing a surface target of the scFv and cells that did not carry this marker.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Currently, only few techniques are available for quantifying systemic metastases in preclinical model. Thus techniques that can sensitively detect metastatic colonization and assess treatment response in real-time are urgently needed. To this end, we engineered tumor cells to express a naturally secreted Gaussia luciferase (Gluc), and investigated its use as a circulating biomarker for monitoring viable metastatic or primary tumor growth and their treatment responses.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We first developed orthotopic primary and metastatic breast tumors with derivative of MDA-MB-231 cells expressing Gluc. We then correlated tumor burden with Gluc activity in the blood and urine along with bioluminescent imaging (BLI). Second, we utilized blood Gluc assay to monitor treatment response to lapatinib in an experimental model of systemic metastasis. We observed good correlation between the primary tumor volume and Gluc concentration in blood (R(2) = 0.84) and urine (R(2) = 0.55) in the breast tumor model. The correlation deviated as a primary tumor grew due to a reduction in viable tumor fraction. This was also supported by our mathematical models for tumor growth to compare the total and viable tumor burden in our model. In the experimental metastasis model, we found numerous brain metastases as well as systemic metastases including bone and lungs. Importantly, blood Gluc assay revealed early growth of metastatic tumors before BLI could visualize their presence. Using secreted Gluc, we localized systemic metastases by BLI and quantitatively monitored the total viable metastatic tumor burden by blood Gluc assay during the course of treatment with lapatinib, a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor of EGFR and HER2.<h4>Conclusion/significance</h4>We demonstrated secreted Gluc assay accurately reflects the amount of viable cancer cells in primary and metastatic tumors. Blood Gluc activity not only tracks metastatic tumor progression but also serves as a longitudinal biomarker for tumor response to treatments.
Project description:Real-time monitoring of the spatial and temporal progression of infection/gene expression in animals will contribute greatly to our understanding of host-pathogen interactions while reducing the number of animals required to generate statistically significant data sets. Sensitive in vivo imaging technologies can detect low levels of light emitted from luciferase reporters in vivo, but the existing reporters are not optimal for fungal infections. Therefore, our aim was to develop a novel reporter system for imaging Candida albicans infections that overcomes the limitations of current luciferase reporters for this major fungal pathogen. This luciferase reporter was constructed by fusing a synthetic, codon-optimized version of the Gaussia princeps luciferase gene to C. albicans PGA59, which encodes a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked cell wall protein. Luciferase expressed from this PGA59-gLUC fusion (referred to as gLUC59) was localized at the C. albicans cell surface, allowing the detection of luciferase in intact cells. The analysis of fusions to strong (ACT1 and EFT3), oxidative stress-induced (TRX1, TRR1, and IPF9996), and morphogenesis-dependent (HWP1) promoters confirmed that gLUC59 is a convenient and sensitive reporter for studies of gene regulation in yeast or hyphal cells, as well as a flexible screening tool. Moreover, the ACT1-gLUC59 fusion represented a powerful tool for the imaging of disease progression in superficial and subcutaneous C. albicans infections. gLUC59 and related cell surface-exposed luciferase reporters might find wide applications in molecular biology, cell biology, pathobiology, and high-throughput screens.
Project description:Measurement of bacterial burden in animal infection models is a key component for both bacterial pathogenesis studies and therapeutic agent research. The traditional quantification means for in vivo bacterial burden requires frequent animal sacrifice and enumerating colony forming units (CFU) recovered from infection loci. To address these issues, researchers have developed a variety of luciferase-expressing bacterial reporter strains to enable bacterial detection in living animals. To date, all such luciferase-based bacterial reporters are in cell-associated form. Production of luciferase-secreting recombinant bacteria could provide the advantage of reporting CFU from both infection loci themselves and remote sampling (eg. body fluid and plasma). Toward this end, we have genetically manipulated a pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) strain, ATCC25922, to secrete the marine copepod Gaussia princeps luciferase (Gluc), and assessed the use of Gluc as both an in situ and ex situ reporter for bacterial burden in mouse tissue cage infections. The E. coli expressing Gluc demonstrates in vivo imaging of bacteria in a tissue cage model of infection. Furthermore, secreted Gluc activity and bacterial CFUs recovered from tissue cage fluid (TCF) are correlated along 18 days of infection. Importantly, secreted Gluc can also be detected in plasma samples and serve as an ex situ indicator for the established tissue cage infection, once high bacterial burdens are achieved. We have demonstrated that Gluc from marine eukaryotes can be stably expressed and secreted by pathogenic E. coli in vivo to enable a facile tool for longitudinal evaluation of persistent bacterial infection.
Project description:Listeria innocua DNA binding protein from starved cells (LiDps) belongs to the ferritin family and provides a promising self-assembling spherical 12-mer protein scaffold for the generation of functional nanomaterials. We report the creation of a Gaussia princeps luciferase (Gluc)-LiDps fusion protein, with chemical conjugation of Zinc (II)-protoporphyrin IX (ZnPP) to lysine residues on the fusion protein (giving Gluc-LiDps-ZnPP). The Gluc-LiDps-ZnPP conjugate is shown to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) via Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) between the Gluc (470-490?nm) and ZnPP. In vitro, Gluc-LiDps-ZnPP is efficiently taken up by tumorigenic cells (SKBR3 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells). In the presence of coelenterazine, this construct inhibits the proliferation of SKBR3 due to elevated ROS levels. Following exposure to Gluc-LiDps-ZnPP, migration of surviving SKBR3 cells is significantly suppressed. These results demonstrate the potential of the Gluc-LiDps-ZnPP conjugate as a platform for future development of an anticancer photodynamic therapy agent.
Project description:Here we describe the design of a bioluminescent stem-loop probe for the sensitive detection of HIV-1 spliced RNA. In this study, we employed Gaussia luciferase (GLuc), a bioluminescent protein that has several advantages over other bioluminescent proteins, including smaller size, higher bioluminescent intensity, and chemical and thermal stability. GLuc was chemically conjugated to the DABCYL-modified stem-loop probe (SLP) and was purified with a 2-step process to remove unconjugated GLuc and SLP. The binding of the target RNA to the loop region of the SLP results in the open conformation separating the stem part of SLP. GLuc conjugated to the stem acts as a reporter that produces light by a chemical reaction upon adding its substrate, coelenterazine in the presence of the target, while DABCYL serves as a quencher of bioluminescence in the closed conformation of SLP in the absence of the target. The optimized GLuc based-SLP assay resulted in a signal-to-background ratio of 47, which is the highest reported with bioluminescent SLPs and is significantly higher compared to traditional fluorescence-based SLPs that yield low signal to background ratio. Moreover, the assay showed an excellent selectivity against a single and double mismatched nucleic acid target, low detection limit, and ability to detect spiked HIV-1 RNA in human serum matrix.
Project description:Gaussia luciferase (Gluc)-with its many favorable traits such as small size, bright emission, and exceptional stability-has become a prominent reporter protein for a wide range of bioluminescence-based detection applications. The ten internal cysteine residues crucial to functional structure formation, however, make expression of high quantities of soluble protein in bacterial systems difficult. In addition to this challenge, the current lack of structural data further complicates the use of Gluc for in vitro applications, such as biosensors, or cellular delivery, both of which rely heavily on robust and reproducible bioconjugation techniques. While Gluc is already appreciably small for a luciferase, a reduction in size that still retains significant bioluminescent activity, in conjunction with a more reproducible bioorthogonal method of chemical modification and facile expression in bacteria, would be very beneficial in biosensor design and cellular transport studies. We have developed truncated variants of Gluc, which maintain attractive bioluminescent features, and have characterized their spectral and kinetic properties. These variants were purified in high quantities from a bacterial system. Additionally, a C-terminal linker has been incorporated into these variants that can be used for reliable, specific modification through tyrosine-based bioconjugation techniques, which leave the sensitive network of cysteine residues undisturbed.
Project description:Gaussia princeps luciferase (Gluc) is widely used as a reporter in eukaryotes, but data about its applicability in bacteria are very limited. Here we show that a codon-optimized Gluc gene can be efficiently expressed in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. To test different Gluc variants as transcriptional reporters, we used the siiA promoter of Salmonella pathogenicity island 4 (SPI-4) driving expression of either an episomal or a chromosomally integrated Gluc gene. Most reliable results were obtained from lysates of single-copy Gluc reporter strains. Given the small size, high activity, and cofactor independence of Gluc, it might be especially suited to monitor secretion of bacterial proteins. We demonstrate its usefulness by luminescence detection of fusion proteins of Gluc and C-terminal portions of the SPI-4-encoded, type I-secreted adhesin SiiE in supernatants. The SiiE C-terminal moiety including immunoglobulin (Ig) domain 53 is essential and sufficient for mediating type I-dependent secretion of Gluc. In eukaryotes, protein-protein interaction studies based on split-Gluc protein complementation assays (PCA) could be established. We adapted these methods for use in Salmonella, demonstrating the interaction between the SPI-1-encoded effector SipA and its cognate secretion chaperone InvB. In conclusion, the versatile Gluc can be used to address a variety of biological questions, thus representing a valuable addition to the toolbox of modern molecular biology and microbiology.
Project description:The development of a bioluminescent immunosensor is reported for the determination of zearalenone (ZEA) based on a peptide mimetic identified by phage display. The peptide mimetic GW, with a peptide sequence GWWGPYGEIELL, was used to create recombinant fusion proteins with the bioluminescent Gaussia luciferase (GLuc) that were directly used as tracers for toxin detection in a competitive immunoassay without the need for secondary antibodies or further labeling. The bioluminescent sensor, based on protein G-coupled magnetic beads for antibody immobilization, enabled determination of ZEA with a detection limit of 4.2 ng mL<sup>-1</sup> (corresponding to 420 μg kg<sup>-1</sup> in food samples) and an IC<sub>50</sub> value of 11.0 ng mL<sup>-1</sup>. The sensor performance was evaluated in spiked maize and wheat samples, with recoveries ranging from 87 to 106% (RSD < 20%, n = 3). Finally, the developed method was applied to the analysis of a naturally contaminated reference matrix material and good agreement with the reported concentrations was obtained.Graphical abstract.