Acoustically-Targeted Measurement of Transgene Expression in the Brain

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Gene expression is a critical component of brain physiology and activity, but monitoring this expression in the living brain represents a significant challenge. Here, we introduce a new paradigm called Recovery of Markers through InSonation (REMIS) for noninvasive measurement of gene expression in the brain with cell-type, spatial, and temporal specificity. Our approach relies on engineered protein markers that are designed to be expressed in neurons and exit into the interstitium. By applying ultrasound to targeted brain regions, these markers are released into the bloodstream, where they can be readily detected using biochemical techniques. REMIS can noninvasively confirm gene delivery and measure endogenous signaling in specific brain sites through a simple insonation and a subsequent blood test. Using REMIS, we successfully measured chemogenetic induction of neuronal activity in ultrasound-tar-geted brain regions. REMIS recovery of markers is reliable and demonstrated improved recovery of markers from the brain into the blood in every tested animal. Overall, our work establishes a noninvasive, spatially-specific means of monitoring gene delivery outcomes and endogenous signaling in mammalian brains, opening up possibilities for brain research and noninvasive monitoring of gene therapies in the brain.

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