Induction of heat shock protein (Hsp) expression appears to correlate with a cytoprotective effect in cultured cells and with improved healing of damaged tissues in animal models and in humans. This family of proteins can also serve as indicators of thermal stress in cases of burn injury or surgical procedures that produce heat. Thus, a rapid in vivo readout for induction of Hsp transcription would facilitate studies of Hsp genes and their encoded proteins as mediators of therapeutic effects and as reporters of thermal damage to tissues. We created a transgenic reporter mouse where expression of luciferase is controlled by the regulatory region of the inducible 70 kDa Hsp, and assessed activation of Hsp70 transcription in live animals in response to rapid, high temperature stresses using in vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI). This model can be used to noninvasively reveal levels of Hsp70 transcription in living tissues, and has utility in studies of the predictive and protective effects of Hsp70 expression, and of various stress responses in tissues.
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