define: reporter gene

In 2008 I directly blogged about ~50 peer-reviewed research articles. My readings clearly highlight the need to revise the current definition of "reporter gene". Although it is clear that a reporter gene can be used to study gene expression, and in 2008 new advances were from the profiling of multiple transcription factors to the ability to characterize intron-delayed transcriptional clocks, a genetically-encoded assay can be designed to study more than gene expression. I learnt that reporters can be adopted to study cell microchimerism, cell fusion, membrane biogenesis, while different assays were aimed at understanding protein interaction. Reporter assays were exploited not only to address basic biology questions, but also to help solving related problems, like heavy metal detection, DNA sequencing, or to faithfully report conditional transgenesis. Again, some authors suggested reporter genes for the preparative chemist, and FDA finally started to deal with glowing-pets for our children.

From my PhD, I mainly learnt that transgenic reporter mice may open the window to the full spectrum of molecular mechanism assessment in a whole-body context, now that I'm looking for a system-biology postdoc, I'm happy to realize that my experience with reporter mice can be so widely turned in different fields. Happy 2009, and thanks for reading.