Cover Stories


In Vivo Fluorescent Imaging Using Fluorescent Proteins

By R.M Hoffman

Springer Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, 872, XIV, 258p, 2011





Transdifferentiation of glioblastoma cells into vascular endothelial cells.
Soda, Y., Marumoto, T., Friedmann-Morvinski, D., Soda, M., Liu, F., Michiue, H., Pastorino, S., Yang, M., Hoffman, R.M., Kesari, S., Verma, I.M.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 4274-4280, 2011.




UV light killing efficacy of fluorescent protein-expressing cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. 
Kimura, H., Lee, C., Hayashi, K., Yamauchi, K., Yamamoto, N., Tsuchiya, H., Tomita, K., Bouvet, M., and Hoffman, R.M. 
J. Cell. Biochem 110, 1439-1446, 2010.


Metronomic gemcitabine in combination with Sunitinib inhibits multisite metastasis and increases survival in an orthotopic model of pancreatic cancer.
Tran Cao, H.S., Bouvet, M., Kaushal, S., Keleman, A., Romney, E., Kim, G., Fruehauf, J., Imagawa, D.K., Hoffman, R.M., and Katz, M.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 9, 2068-2078, 2010. (Highlights Section. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 9, 1929, 2010).


Complementary use of fluorescence and magnetic resonance imaging of metastatic esophageal cancer in a novel orthotopic mouse model.
Gros, S.J., Dohrmann, T., Peldschus, K., Schurr, P.G., Kaifi, J.T., Kalinina, T., Reichelt, U., Mann, O., Strate, T.G., Adam, G., Hoffman, R.M., and Izbicki, J.R.
International Journal of Cancer 126, 2671-2681, 2010.


Systemic targeting of primary bone tumor and lung metastasis of high-grade osteosarcoma in nude mice with a tumor-selective strain of Salmonella typhymurium.

Hayashi, K., Zhao, M., Yamauchi, K., Yamamoto, N., Tsuchiya, H., Tomita, K., Kishimoto, H., Bouvet, M., and Hoffman, R.M.

Cell Cycle 8, 870-875, 2009.



In vitro/in vivo biorecognition of lectin-immobilized fluorescent nanospheres for human colorectal cancer cells.

Sakuma, S., Yano, T., Masaoka, Y., Kataoka, M., Hiwatari, K., Tachikawa, H., Shoji, Y., Kimura, R., Ma, H., Yang, Z., Tang, L., Hoffman, R.M., Yamashita, S. 

Journal of Controlled Release 134, 2-10, 2009.


Glowing proteins with promising biological and medical applications.

by Linda Zajac 

Chem Matters 12-14, December 2008.


Dual-color imaging of angiogenesis and its inhibition in bone and soft tissue sarcoma.

Hayashi, K., Yamauchi, K., Yamamoto, N., Tsuchiya, H., Tomita, K., Amoh, Y., Hoffman, R.M., and Bouvet, M.  

J. Surg. Res. 140, 165-170, 2007.



Tumor cells genetically labeled with GFP in the nucleus and RFP in the cytoplasm for imaging cellular dynamics.  T

Jiang, P., Yamauchi, K., Yang., Tsuji, K., Xu, M., Maitra, A., Bouvet, M., and Hoffman, R.M. 

Cell Cycle 5, 1198-1201, 2006.




Dual-color fluorescent cells with one color fluorescent protein in the nucleus and another color fluorescent protein in the cytoplasm were genetically engineered. The dual-color cancer cells enable real-time nuclear-cytoplasmic dynamics to be visualized in living cells in vivo as well as in vitro. To obtain the dual-color cells, red fluorescent protein (RFP) was expressed in the cytoplasm of a series of human and rodent cancer cells, and green fluorescent protein (GFP) linked to histone H2B was expressed in the nucleus. Nuclear GFP expression enabled visualization of nuclear dynamics, whereas simultaneous cytoplasmic RFP expression enabled visualization of nuclear-cytoplasmic ratios as well as simultaneous cell and nuclear shape changes. Using the Olympus OV100 Whole-Mouse Imaging System, total sub-cellular dynamics can be visualized in the living dual-color cells in real time in the live mouse after cell injection. Highly elongated cancer cells and nuclei in narrow capillaries were visualized where both the nuclei and cytoplasm deform. Both cytoplasm and nuclei were visualized to undergo extreme deformation during extravasation with cytoplasmic processing exiting vessels first and nuclei following along these processes. The dual-color cells described here thus enable the sub-cellular dynamics of cancer celltrafficking to be imaged in the living animal.



                                                                        Technical Highlights of the Recent Literature 


[BIOTECHNIQUES  36, No. 1 January, 19, 2004] (726 Kb)











The development of tumor-induced vasculature is essential for both tumor growth and the formation of metastases. Newly formed blood vessels thus provide promising potential therapeutic targets. However, the role of host tissues and their interactions with the tumor in this angiogenesis has remained unclear. Yang et al. have developed a technique for delineating tumor-induced host processes by exploiting a dual-color fluorescent system. They transplanted tumors expressing red fluorescent protein (RFP) into green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing nude mice. All of the tissues from these transgenic mice fluoresce green, except for their hair and erythrocytes. This dual-color fluorescence imaging is unique in that it can depict morphological events during tumor-host interactions at the cellular level in fresh tissue in addition to whole-body imaging. They visualized macrophages engulfing tumor cells, dendritic cells contacting tumor cells, and lymphocytes attacking the tumor. The insights gleaned from this study and others like it should be important in elucidating the role of host cells in tumor growth, progression, and invasion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 100 (24): 14259-14262 (2003)

Host-derived GFP-expressing blood vessels visualized in live RFP-expressing mouse melanoma.



Truncated Galectin-3 Inhibits Tumor Growth and Metastasis in Orthotopic Nude Mouse Model of Human Breast Cancer.   

John, C.M., Leffler, H., Kahl-Knutsson, B., Svensson, I., Jarvis, G.A.

[Clinical Cancer Research 9, 2374-2383, 2003]


Orthotopic breast cancer xenograft imaged with green fluorescent protein in nude mouse treated with truncated galectin-3 (galectin-3C). The mammalian lectin galectin-3 has been suggested to promote cancer by stimulation of cell adhesion and inhibition of apoptosis reulting in increased tumor growth and metastasis. Galectin-3C, a fragment of galectin-3 retaining its carbohydrate binding activity but lacking the cross linking ability and thereby possibly acting as a dominant negative inhibitor, reduced tumor growth and metastasis and showed no toxic side effects. For details, see C.M. John et al., in this issue. Constance M. John, Hakon Leffler, Barbro Kahl-Knutsson, Inga Svensson, and Gary A. Jarvis. Truncated Galectin-3 Inhibits Tumor Growth and Metastasis in Orthotopic Nude Mouse Model of Human Breast Cancer.  Clin Cancer Res 9: 2374-2382, 2003.  



Green fluorescent protein imaging of tumour growth, metastasis and angiogenesis in mouse models.

Robert M. Hoffman

[Lancet Oncology 3, 546-556, 2002]

In this issue: Green fluorescence protein imaging of tumour growth, metastasis, and angiogenesis in mouse models by Robert M Hoffman. The figure below shows a whole-body fluorescent image of a mouse with bone metastases in the (a) skull, (b) scapula, and (c) spine.



Dissecting p53 tumor suppressor functions in vivo

Clemens A. Schmitt, Jordan S. Fridman, Meng Yang, Eugene Baranov, Robert M. Hoffman, and Scott W. Lowe

[CANCER CELL 1, 289-298 April 2002]

Whole body fluorescence imaging of lymphoma progression in live mice. The cover shows the temporal and  spatial progression of Em-myc lymphoma cells tagged with green fluorescent protein in a live mouse (with time progression from top to bottom). Note that the lymphomas first expand within the lympoid compartments and bone. In the absence of p53 or following Bcl-2 overexpression, these lympomas readily disseminate into nonlympoid compartments. For details see Schmitt et al. (pp. 289-298) in this issue.

Summary: Although the p53 tumor supressor acts in plethora of processes that influence cellular proliferation and survival, it remains unclear which p53 functions are essential for tumor suppression and, as a consequence, are selected against during tumor development. Using a mouse model harbouring primary, genetically modified myc-driven lympomas, we show that disruption of apoptosis downstream of p53 by Bcl2 or a dominant-negative caspase 9 confers-like p53 loss-a selective advantage, and completely alleviates pressure to inactivate p53 during lymphomagenesis. Despite their p53-null-like aggressive phenotype, apoptosis-defective lymphomas that retain intact p53 genes do not display the checkpoint defects and gross aneuploidy that are charcteristic of p53 mutant tumors. Therefore, apoptosis is the only p53 function selected against during lymphoma development, whereas defective cell-cycle checkpoints and aneuploidy are mere byproducts of p53 loss.

     Figure 4. Whole body fluorescence imaging allows visualisation of lymphoma dissemination.

Lymphomas with indicated genotypes and transduced

with a GFP-coexpressing retrovirus were transplanted

into recipients to monitor lymphoma dissemination in whole viable animals by GFP fluorescence.


A Senescence Program Contolled by p53 and p16INK4a Contribures to the Outcome of Cancer Therapy

Clemens A. Schmitt, Jordan S. Fridman, Meng Yang, Soyoung Lee, Eugene Baranov, Robert M. Hoffman, and Scott W. Lowe

[CELL 109, 335-346, May 3, 2002]


p53 andINK4a/ARF mutations promote tumorogenesis and drug resistance, in part, by disabling apoptosis. We show that primary murine lympomas also respond to chemotherapy by engaging a senescence program controlled by p53 and p16INK4a. Hence, tumors with p53 or INK4a/ARF mutations-but not those lacking ARF alone - respond poorly to cyclophosphamide therapy in vivo. Morover, tumors harboring a Bcl2-mediated apoptotic block undergo a drug-induced cytostasis involving the accumulation of p53, p16INK4a, and senescence markers, and typically acquire p53 or INK4a mutations upon progression to a terminal stage. Finally, mice bearing tumors capable of drug-induced senescence have a much better prognosis following chemotherapy than those harboring tumors with senescence defects. Therefore, cellular senescence contributes to treatment outcome in vivo.

 Figure 1. Contribution of p53 and Bcl2 to Treatment Responses

Mice harboring ctrl.-MSCV, p53 null-MSCV, and ctrl.-bcl2 lymphomas were treated at comparable tumor burdens (day 0) with a single dose of cyclophosphamide (CTX) and monitored by whole-body fluorescence imaging. Representative examples are shown.



GFP-Expressing Metastatic-Cancer Mouse Models. 

By Robert M. Hoffman

[In: Teicher, B., ed. Tumor Models in Cancer Research.  Totowa, NJ: Humana Press Inc., 99-112, 2002].



Green Fluorescent Protein Imaging of Tumor Cells in Mice

By Robert M. Hoffman

[LAB ANIMAL 31, No. 4, 34-41 April 2002] (3.8Mb)


Real-Time Optical Imaging of Primary Tumor Growth and Multiple Metastatic Events in a Pancreatic Cancer Orthotopic Model

Michael Bouvet, Jinwei Wang, Stephanie R. Nardin, Rounak Nassirpour, Meng Yang, Eugene Baranov, Ping Jang,  A. R. Moosa and Robert M. Hoffman

[CANCER RESEARCH 62, 1534-1540, March 1, 2002]

ABSTRACT: We report here whole-body optical imaging, in real time, of genetically fluorescent pancreatic tumors growing and metastasizing to multiple sites in live mice. The whole-body optical imaging system is external and noninvasive. Human pancreatic tumor cell lines, BxPC-3 and MiaPaCa-2, were engineered to stably express high-levels of the Acqurea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP). The GFP-expressing pancreatic tumor cell lines were surgically orthotopically implanted as tissue fragments in the body of the pancreas of nude mice. Whole-body optical images visualized real-time primary tumor growth and formation of metastatic lesions that developed in the spleen, bowel, portal lymph nodes, omentum, and liver. Intravital imaging was used for quatification of growth of micrometastasis on the liver and stomach. Whole-body imaging was carried out with either a trans-illuminated epi-fluorescence microscope or a fluorescent light box, both with a thermoelectrically cooled color CCD camera. The simple, noninvasive, and highly selective imaging made possible by the strong GFP fluorescence allowed detailed simultaneous quantitative imaging of tumor growth and multiple metastasis formation of pancreatic cancer. The GFP imaging affords unprecendented contionuous visual monitoring of malignant growth and spread within intact animals without the need for anesthesia, substrate injection, control agents, or restraint of animals required by the other imaging methods. The GFP imaging technology presented in this report will facilitate studies of modulators of pancreatic cancer growth, including inhibition by potential chemotherapeutic agents.



The human pancreatic tumor cell line, BxPC-3, was engineered to stably express high-levels of the Aquorea victoria green fluorescent protein (GFP). The GFP-expressing pancreatic tumor cell line was surgically orthotopically implanted (SOI) as tissue fragments in the body of the pancreas of nude mice. Intravital imaging was used for quantification of growth metastasis on the liver. The diameters of the three micrometastases were 288 mm and 208 mm the right lobe and 344 mm on the left lobe as quantified by image analysis at day-70 post SOI.


Visualization of GFP-Expressing Tumors and Metastasis In Vivo

Robert M. Hoffman

[BIOTECHNIQUES  30, No. 5 May, 1016-1016, 2001] (6.1Mb)

ABSTRACT: We have developed mouse models of metastatic cancer with genetically fluorescent tumors that can be imaged in fresh tissue, in situ, as well as externally.  To achieve this capability, we have transduced the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, cloned from the bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea victoria, into a series of human and rodent cancer cell lines that were selected in vitro to stably express GFP in vivo after transplantation to metastatic rodent models. Techniques were also developed for transduction of tumors by GFP in vivo.  With this fluorescent tool, we detected and visualized for the first time tumors and metastasis in fresh viable tissue or in situ in host organs down to the single cell level.  GFP tumors on the colon, prostate, breast, brain, liver, lymph nodes, lung, pancreas, bone and other organs can also be visualized externally, transcutaneously by quantitative whole-body fluorescence optical imaging.  Real-time tumor and metastatic growth and angiogenesis and inhibition by representative drugs can be imaged and quantified for rapid anti-tumor, anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenesis drug screening.  The GFP-transfected tumor cells enabled a fundamental advance in the visualization of tumor growth and metastasis in real time in vivo.







Three-dimensional histoculture: Origins and applications in cancer research. Cancer Cells 3, 86-92, 1991.

Robert M. Hoffman

Cancer Cells 3, 86-92, 1991. (675 Kb)

Cover: Confocal photomicrograph of human colon cancer in three-dimensional histoculture on collagen containing sponges. The culture on the right has been treated with 5-fluorouracil. Viable cells are stained with BCEF-AM (green) and nonviable cells are stained with propidium iodide (red). For a review of methods and applications of three-dimensional histoculture, see the article.