Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Live in vivo imaging of Egr-1 promoter activity during neonatal development, liver regeneration and wound healing

Philipp Dussmann1, Judith I Pagel1, Sabina Vogel2, Terese Magnusson3, Rene Zimmermann4, Ernst Wagner3, Wolfgang Schaper2, Manfred Ogris3* and Elisabeth Deindl1*

Author Affiliations

1 Walter-Brendel-Centre of Experimental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

2 Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim, Germany

3 Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Center for System-based Drug Research, Department of Pharmacy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

4 Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care and Pain Therapy, University Clinic Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany

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BMC Developmental Biology 2011, 11:28  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-11-28

Published: 20 May 2011



The zinc finger transcription factor Egr-1 (Early growth response 1) is central to several growth factors and represents an important activator of target genes not only involved in physiological processes like embryogenesis and neonatal development, but also in a variety of pathophysiological processes, for example atherosclerosis or cancer. Current options to investigate its transcription and activation in vivo are end-point measurements that do not provide insights into dynamic changes in the living organism.


We developed a transgenic mouse (Egr-1-luc) in which the luciferase reporter gene is under the control of the murine Egr-1 promoter providing a versatile tool to study the time course of Egr-1 activation in vivo. In neonatal mice, bioluminescence imaging revealed a high Egr-1 promoter activity reaching basal levels three weeks after birth with activity at snout, ears and paws. Using a model of partial hepatectomy we could show that Egr-1 promoter activity and Egr-1 mRNA levels were increased in the regenerating liver. In a model of wound healing, we demonstrated that Egr-1 promoter activity was upregulated at the site of injury.


Taken together, we have developed a transgenic mouse model that allows real time in vivo imaging of the Egr-1 promoter activity. The ability to monitor and quantify Egr-1 activity in the living organism may facilitate a better understanding of Egr-1 function in vivo.