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Author Notes:

Xiaoping Hu, The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, 101 Woodruff Circle, Suite 2001, Woodruff Memorial Research Building, Atlanta, GA 30322. xhu@bme.gatech.edu

Or: Anthony Chan, Department of Human Genetics and Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Suite 2212, Neurosciences Research Bldg., 954 Gatewood Rd. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30329. achan@genetics.emory.edu

Anthony W.S. Chan and Xiaoping Hu contributed equally to this work.

We thank L.E. Bertani for providing the magA gene; W. Hillen for providing the rtTA2s-M2 fragment; Hong Yi for assistance with electron microscopy; Michael Haluska for assistance with X-ray diffraction analysis; Shijun Zhu and Shang-Hsun Yang for assistance with RT-PCR; Jin-Jing Yang for assistance with the production of high-titer lentivirus; and GuoFu Fang and the Emory Center for Neurodegenerative Disease and Center for Behavioral Neurosciences Viral Vector Core for assistance in constructing the inducible lentiviral vector.


Research Funding:

Grant sponsor: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); Grant number: UO1HL89711.

Grant sponsor: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB); Grant number: F31EB005928.

Grant sponsors: National Institutes of Health; Georgia Research Alliance; Alzheimer Research Consortium.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (to O.Z., X.H, and A.W.S.C.); Georgia Research Alliance (to X.H.); and Alzheimer Research Consortium (to A.W.S.C.).


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging
  • SPIO
  • molecular imaging
  • contrast agent
  • gene expression
  • reporter gene

MagA is sufficient for producing magnetic nanoparticles in mammalian cells, making it an MRI reporter


Journal Title:

Magnetic Resonance in Medicine


Volume 59, Number 6


, Pages 1225-1231

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is routinely used to obtain anatomical images that have greatly advanced biomedical research and clinical health care today, but the full potential of MRI in providing functional, physiological, and molecular information is only beginning to emerge. In this work, we sought to provide a gene expression marker for MRI based on bacterial magnetosomes, tiny magnets produced by naturally occurring magnetotactic bacteria. Specifically, magA, a gene in magnetotactic bacteria known to be involved with iron transport, is expressed in a commonly used human cell line, 293FT, resulting in the production of magnetic, iron-oxide nanoparticles by these cells and leading to increased transverse relaxivity. MRI shows that these particles can be formed in vivo utilizing endogenous iron and can be used to visualize cells positive for magA. These results demonstrate that magA alone is sufficient to produce magnetic nanoparticles and that it is an appropriate candidate for an MRI reporter gene.

Copyright information:

© 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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