Human protamine-1 as an mri reporter gene based on chemical exchange

Amnon Bar-Shir, Guanshu Liu, Kannie W.Y. Chan, Nikita Oskolkov, Xiaolei Song, Nirbhay N. Yadav, Piotr Walczak, Michael T. McMahon, Peter C.M. Van Zijl, Jeff W.M. Bulte, Assaf A. Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Genetically engineered reporters have revolutionized the understanding of many biological processes. MRI-based reporter genes can dramatically improve our ability to monitor dynamic gene expression and allow coregistration of subcellular genetic information with high-resolution anatomical images. We have developed a biocompatible MRI reporter gene based on a human gene, the human protamine-1 (hPRM1). The arginine-rich hPRM1 (47% arginine residues) generates high MRI contrast based on the chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) contrast mechanism. The 51 amino acidlong hPRM1 protein was fully synthesized using microwave-assisted technology, and the CEST characteristics of this protein were compared to other CEST-based contrast agents. Both bacterial and human cells were engineered to express an optimized hPRM1 gene and showed higher CEST contrast compared to controls. Live cells expressing the hPRM1 reporter gene, and embedded in three-dimensional culture, also generated higher CEST contrast compared to wild-type live cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-138
Number of pages5
JournalACS chemical biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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