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TOMOGRAPHY, March 2017, Volume 3, Issue 1: 1-8
DOI: 10.18383/j.tom.2015.00181

Ferritin-EGFP Chimera as an Endogenous Dual-Reporter for Both Fluorescent and Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Human Glioma U251 Cells

Caihong Jiang1, Dongmei Wu1, and E. Mark Haacke1,2

1Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China and 2Department of Radiology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan


A unique hybrid protein ferritin–enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) was built to serve as an endogenous dual reporter for both fluorescence and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It consists of a human ferritin heavy chain (an iron-storage protein) at the N terminus, a flexible polypeptide in the middle as a linker, and an EGFP at the C terminus. Through antibiotic screening, we established stable human glioma U251 cell strains that expressed ferritin–EGFP under the control of tetracycline. These cells emitted bright green fluorescence and were easily detected by a fluorescent microscope. Ferritin–EGFP overexpression proved effective in triggering obvious intracellular iron accumulation as shown by Prussian blue staining and by MRI. Further, we found that ferritin–EGFP overexpression did not cause proliferation differences between experimental and control group cells when ferritin–EGFP was expressed for <96 hours. Application of this novel ferritin–EGFP chimera has a promising future for combined optical and MRI approaches to study in vivo imaging at a cellular level.


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