Real-Time Detection of RNA Structure in Live Cells

Researchers at Hokkaido University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed a cutting-edge technique that can detect the characteristic structure of RNA in real-time within living cells. This new technique, based on fluorescence-microscopic spectroscopy, holds great promise for understanding the role of RNA in diseases such as ALS. Gene Editing Company Aims to Resurrect the Extinct Dodo Bird

The technique tracks a cyanine dye called Alexa Fluor 647 (AF647) and uses a microscopy technique called TRAST (TRAnsient STate) monitoring to detect changes in fluorescence blinking, which correspond to the formation of RNA G-quadruplexes. These structures, normally involved in regulating gene expression, can play a role in neurodegenerative diseases when mutations occur in chromosome 9 in humans.

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By measuring changes in blinking properties, the researchers are able to distinguish the structures of RNA within the cell, making it possible to study the RNA G-quadruplexes in disease in real-time at an intracellular level. This method can also be used to study the folding and misfolding of proteins in cells.

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The results of this study prove that cyanine dyes provide a sensitive readout of RNA G-quadruplex folding states in living cells and even in single cells, opening up exciting new avenues for research in the field of RNA and disease.

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