Imaging Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Mice with Reporter Enzyme Fluorescence. Academic Article uri icon


  • Reporter enzyme fluorescence (REF) utilizes substrates that are specific for enzymes present in target organisms of interest for imaging or detection by fluorescence or bioluminescence. We utilize BlaC, an enzyme expressed constitutively by all M. tuberculosis strains. REF allows rapid quantification of bacteria in lungs of infected mice. The same group of mice can be imaged at many time points, greatly reducing costs, enumerating bacteria more quickly, allowing novel observations in host-pathogen interactions, and increasing statistical power, since more animals per group are readily maintained. REF is extremely sensitive due to the catalytic nature of the BlaC enzymatic reporter and specific due to the custom flourescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) or fluorogenic substrates used. REF does not require recombinant strains, ensuring normal host-pathogen interactions. We describe the imaging of M. tuberculosis infection using a FRET substrate with maximal emission at 800 nm. The wavelength of the substrate allows sensitive deep tissue imaging in mammals. We will outline aerosol infection of mice with M. tuberculosis, anesthesia of mice, administration of the REF substrate, and optical imaging. This method has been successfully applied to evaluating host-pathogen interactions and efficacy of antibiotics targeting M. tuberculosis.

published proceedings

  • J Vis Exp

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Sharan, R., Yang, H., Sule, P., & Cirillo, J. D.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Sharan, Riti||Yang, Hee-Jeong||Sule, Preeti||Cirillo, Jeffrey D

publication date

  • February 2018