Heat-induced Gene Activation

In studying gene expression and gene therapy, having the ability to precisely control the induction of the exogenous gene would be a very powerful tool.   The gene activation control would obviously occur temporally (turned on and off at specified time intervals). In addition, it is highly desirable to have spatial restrictions (not ubiquitously expressed in every cell of the animal); for example, the capability to target specific cells, cell groups or tissues is a much more eloquent study. Moreover, in cancer gene therapy, if using “suicide genes” to eradicate the diseased cells, definitely ubiquitous expression throughout the animal would be disastrous.

Heat-induced gene activation has been cited in numerous publications as an effective mechanism to study gene expression and gene therapy. This has both temporal and spatial control. The XYRCOS and XYClone laser offer a heating mechanism that is precisely controlled, as has been proven in assisted reproduction techniques. With the Staccato multi-pulsing feature, it is possible to sustain a precise, low powered beam for long pulse duration. 

XYClone laser system for the heat-induced gene activation in transgenic zebrafish.

Initial evaluation was done in 2010 at the Marine Biology Labs in Woods Hole, MA; Jon Henry, one of the instructors at the Embryology course, set the test up with some students at the lab. With XYClone laser and the Staccato multi-pulsing feature, it was possible to reproduce the results from the IR-LEGO system, as outlined in previous studies. The Staccato feature was needed, because it could simulate the extended pulse duration (in seconds) that is required for heat-induced gene activation.

Heat induced gene activation zebrafishHeat induced gene activation zebrafish

A more in depth study of the XYClone laser for heat-induced gene activation has been conducted at the USC Keck School of Medicine, CA, by Dr. Gage Crump on zebrafish. Using zebrafish, Dr. Crump studies the facial skeleton and musculature, it precursors in development and patterning.  With his research, he hopes to provide the basis for therapeutic regeneration of the skeletal muscles in patients with severe skeletal injuries. (excerpt from http://cscrm.usc.edu/crump/, Dr. Crump’s lab website).

Below is a picture from Dr. Crump. The fluorescing (GFP) cells were induced by our XYClone laser system.