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A team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mayo Clinic have engineered a new type of molecular probe that can measure and count RNA in cells and tissue without organic dyes. The probe is based on the conventional fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique, but it relies on compact quantum dots to illuminate molecules and diseased cells rather than fluorescent dyes.
Over the last 50 years, FISH has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry because it effectively images and counts DNA and RNA in single cells. However, FISH has its limitations due to the delicate nature of the dyes. For example, the dyes rapidly deteriorate and are not very good at imaging in three dimensions. In addition, conventional FISH can only read out a couple of RNA or DNA sequences at a time.
Dyes - Dots - Stability - Issues - RNAs
"By replacing dyes with quantum dots, there are no stability issues whatsoever and we can count numerous RNAs with higher fidelity than before," said Andrew Smith, an associate professor of Bioengineering and member of the research team. "Moreover, we uncovered a fundamental limit to the size of a molecular label in cells, revealing new design rules for analysis in cells."
In their latest paper, published October 26, 2018, in the online edition of Nature Communications, Smith and his team identified an optimal size for quantum dots in order to effectively work with the FISH protocol. This discovery enabled quantum dot-based FISH...
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