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Molecular Imaging Center


Scientific Co-Director - Samuel Achilefu
Scientific Co-Director - David Piwnica-Worms
Contact - Julie Prior

Mission Statement

The Molecular Imaging Reporter Core (MIRC) is a central facility that not only develops and generates new reporter constructs, cell lines and genetically engineered animals, but also provides expertise, materials and collaborative assistance for design and execution of the biological aspects of molecular imaging. The MIRC serves investigators with a wide range of resources and experience in molecular biology, mammalian cell culture, and small animal experimentation. One of the most important service activities of this core is dissemination of our newly developed molecular imaging reagents, reporter cell lines and genetically-encoded reporters to investigators within our institution, to other imaging institutions and to cancer biology investigators throughout the world.

Functionality Description

Discovery Research

The MIRC is also highly active in discovery based research, creating new constructs and generating transgenic reporter animals. Results are not yet publish, so check back frequently.

Service and Expertise

While these web-based catalogues provide an archive of information useful for experienced investigators, the MIRC also provides assistance to investigators who have limited experience or resources by advice or direct help with experimental design and execution. The Core can clone and screen reporters and generate cell lines and transgenic or knock-in animals. Furthermore, MIRC can characterize reporter gene expression and molecular function using either radio-labeled or fluorescently tagged probes (together with the Chemistry Core) or through bioluminescence assays in vitro. Furthermore, the MIRC assists in planning and executing xenograft and transgenic studies in vivo (see Imaging Resources).

Plasmid Repository

The plasmid repository contains general information about plasmids (e.g. promoter, insert) as well as cloning strategies. Bacterial and/or mammalian selection markers are described. Descriptions of the vector backbone and a circular map are accessible. Furthermore, the DNA sequence file can be retrieved which allows manipulation using any standard DNA software.

The MIRC serves as a central clearinghouse for molecular imaging reagents and protocols related to biological aspects of molecular imaging. These materials include reporters for genetic transduction (plasmids and viruses) to establish cell lines that stably express imaging constructs for in vitro assays or xenograft production or to create transgenic reporter mice. All information is catalogued in a repository database.      

Transgenic Animals

Transgenic animals are created with the coordinated help of two other core facilities at Washington University, the Mouse Embryonic Stem Cell Core or the Mouse Genetics Core. Both facilities have the required expertise and infrastructure for these important steps in generating transgenic animals and provide high quality service to the WU research community.

The database for transgenic animals that have been created by the MIRC contains information documenting mouse identification, parents, date of birth, sex of the animal, positive or negative for the transgene, and further comments regarding breeding pair set-up, specific experiments, and distribution to collaborators.

Cell Lines

The repository database for cell lines lists inventory of cell lines. For each specific cell line, information about the freeze-down, growth media and selection media as well as other information (stably integrated construct, origin of cell line) can be retrieved.