Bioluminescence imaging for assessment and normalization in transfected cell arrays

Angela K. Pannier, Eric A. Ariazi, Abigail D. Bellis, Zain Bengali, V. Craig Jordan, Lonnie D. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Transfected cell arrays (TCAs) represent a high-throughput technique to correlate gene expression with functional cell responses. Despite advances in TCAs, improvements are needed for the widespread application of this technology. We have developed a TCA that combines a two-plasmid system and dual-biolumineseence imaging to quantitatively normalize for variability in transfection and increase sensitivity. The two-plasmids consist of: (i) normalization plasmid present within each spot, and (ii) functional plasmid that varies between spots, responsible for the functional endpoint of the array. Bioluminescence imaging of dual-luciferase reporters (renilla, firefly luciferase) provides sensitive and quantitative detection of cellular response, with minimal post-transfection processing. The array was applied to quantify estrogen receptor α (ERα) activity in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. A plasmid containing an ERα-regulated promoter directing firefly luciferase expression was mixed with a normalization plasmid, compfexed with cationic lipids and deposited into an array. ER induction mimicked results obtained through traditional assays methods, with estrogen inducing luciferase expression 10-fold over the antiestrogen fulvestrant or vehicle. Furthermore, the array captured a dose response to estrogen, demonstrating the sensitivity of bioluminescence quantification. This system provides a tool for basic science research, with potential application for the development of patient specific therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-497
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioluminescence imaging
  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Substrate-mediated gene delivery
  • Transfected cell array

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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