Luciferase-based reporting of suicide gene activity in murine mesenchymal stem cells.PLoS One 2019; 14(7):e0220013Plos
Due to their ease of isolation, gene modification and tumor-homing properties, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an attractive cellular vehicle for the delivery of toxic suicide genes to a variety of cancers in pre-clinical models. In addition, the incorporation of suicide genes in stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies improves their safety profile by permitting graft destruction in the event of unexpected tumorigeneses or unwanted differentiation. Due to the functional requirement of ATP for the Firefly luciferase gene Luc2 to produce light, luciferase-based reporting of cytotoxicity can be engineered into potential cell therapies. Consequently, we nucleofected mammalian expression plasmids containing both the Luc2 and the yeast fusion cytosine deaminase uracil phosphoribosyltransferase (CDUPRT) genes for expression in murine MSCs to assess luciferase as a reporter of suicide gene cytotoxicity, and MSC as vehicles of suicide gene therapy. In vitro bioluminescence imaging (BLI) showed that following the addition of the non-toxic prodrug fluorocytosine (5-FC), CDUPRT-expressing MSCs displayed enhanced cytotoxicity in comparison to Luc2 reporter MSC controls. This study demonstrates the utility of luciferase as a reporter of CDUPRT-mediated cytotoxicity in murine MSC using BLI.