Goeman F, Manni I, Artuso S, Ramachandran B, Toietta G, Bossi G, Rando G, Cencioni C, Germoni S, Straino S, Capogrossi MC, Bacchetti S, Maggi A, Sacchi A, Ciana P, Piaggio G.
In vivo imaging involving the use of genetically engineered animals is an innovative powerful tool for the noninvasive assessment of the molecular and cellular events that are often targets of therapy. Based on the knowledge that the activity of the Nuclear Factor-Y (NF-Y) transcription factor is restricted "in vitro" to proliferating cells, we have generated a transgenic reporter mouse, called MITO-Luc, in which a NF-Y-dependent promoter controls luciferase expression. In these mice bioluminescence imaging of NF-Y activity visualizes areas of physiological cell proliferation and during regeneration in response to injury. Using this tool, we highlight for the first time a role of NF-Y activity on hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration. The MITO-Luc reporter mice should facilitate investigations on the involvement of genes in cell proliferation as well as provide a useful model for studying aberrant proliferation in disease pathogenesis. It should be also useful in the development of new anti/pro-proliferative drugs, their efficacy assessment and side effects on non-target tissues.
In the middle of 2008, I had the privilege to put for the first time, different organs from this transgenic mouse under a CCD camera. I was at the end of my PhD, and I was helping during a bioluminescence imaging workshop while writing my thesis, when I met Giulia with her new-and-secret transgenic mouse. We silently introduced the mouse in our demo for the different practical sessions, and at the end of the day, I could not resist to examine also some internal organs. I remember that night. I was using long exposures, sometimes 15 minutes, but all the pictures were astonishing: in all the organs examined, the bioluminescence was present only in areas enriched in proliferating cells, see for instance the testes, in which spermatogenesis continuously occur. I'm very happy that this paper is finally out and featured in the cover. Good job Giulia!