Departmental Papers (BE)

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Journal Article

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Numerous studies have utilized molecular beacons (MBs) to image RNA expression in living cells; however, there is growing evidence that the sensitivity of RNA detection is significantly hampered by their propensity to emit false-positive signals. To overcome these limitations, we have developed a new RNA imaging probe called ratiometric bimolecular beacon (RBMB), which combines functional elements of both conventional MBs and siRNA. Analogous to MBs, RBMBs elicit a fluorescent reporter signal upon hybridization to complementary RNA. In addition, an siRNA-like doublestranded domain is used to facilitate nuclear export. Accordingly, live-cell fluorescent imaging showed that RBMBs are localized predominantly in the cytoplasm, whereas MBs are sequestered into the nucleus. The retention of RBMBs within the cytoplasmic compartment led to >15-fold reduction in false-positive signals and a significantly higher signal-to-background compared with MBs. The RBMBs were also designed to possess an optically distinct reference fluorophore that remains unquenched regardless of probe confirmation. This reference dye not only provided a means to track RBMB localization, but also allowed single cell measurements of RBMB fluorescence to be corrected for variations in probe delivery. Combined, these attributes enabled RBMBs to exhibit an improved sensitivity for RNA detection in living cells.


Suggested Citation:
Chen, A.K., O. Davydenko, M.A. Behlke and A. Tsourkas. (2010). "Ratiometric bimolecular beacons for the sensitive detection of RNA in single living cells." Nucleic Acids Research. vol. 38(14).



Date Posted: 04 November 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.