Imaging RNA in living cells in real time

THE IMAGING of RNA inside individual living cells seems like the stuff of science fiction, but is becoming a laboratory reality says Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT).

The latest issue of Decoded, the company’s quarterly newsletter, highlights the use of IDT oligos to image RNA in single, living cells.

Andrew Tsourkas, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, has combined molecular beacons (MBs) with small interfering RNA (siRNA) to create an all-RNA probe, known as the Ratiometric BiMolecular Beacon (RBMB).

Delivered using microporation, the siRNA portion guides localisation of the RBMBs to the cell cytoplasm, where they bind to specific mRNAs.

These imaging agents make it possible not only to track and visualise individual RNA transcripts, but allow researchers to actually see cell trafficking, measure the velocity of transcript movement, monitor localisation within the cytosol, and visualise RNA from transcription through translation.

Dr Tsourkas commented: “We often work closely with IDT to move our research forward and have had a great deal of valuable input on probe design over the years. We want our technologies to be used by other researchers, so it is very important to us that our probes are not only functional, but practical”.


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