Visualizing cell–cell communication using synthetic notch activated MRI

TianDuo Wang, Yuanxin Chen, Nivin N. Nystrom, Shirley Liu, Yanghao Fu, Francisco M. Martinez, Timothy J. Scholl, and John A. Ronald

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), March 9, 2023

In this study, T cells were engineered to induce the expression of optical reporter genes after interaction, using the SynNotch system. This optical reporter gene can be identified using MRI, and is therefore a useful tool for identify and locate CD19-positive tumors. The Lux3 FL was used to validate and to visualize reporter activation, demonstrating that the first signal can be detected 8 h following co-culture with a peak of positive reporter cells between 24 and 32 h. The results highlight the importance of visualizing when and where cells encounter their intended targets via MRI. With further refinement, this approach can help better understand T cell kinetics, aid in new drug discovery strategies and help monitor new therapies.