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.
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.
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.