RNA Imaging Technique May Lead to New Drug Discoveries

New process may lead to quicker and more accurate screening processes for drug development.

New process may lead to quicker and more accurate screening processes for drug development.

A new imaging technique shows the different expressions of RNA in living cells.

A team led by Assistant Professor Dan Ohtan Wang from Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan has for the first time created a visualization technique to convey expressions of RNA in different parts of the cell.

RNA holds protein distribution information, making it an important part of biological functioning. RNA is not equally divided up into cells, however, some cells have higher concentrations of RNA depending on environments and cell conditions. This imbalance of RNA can make cells unstable. RNA disruption can lead to cell health risks, and it is currently unclear what causes these abnormalities.

With this new technology, which marked specific RNA molecules with non-toxic fluorescent probes in the living brain cells of mice, one can see how RNA is distributed amongst different cells. The light intensifies depending on the RNA concentration, making an effective way of quantifying RNA in cells.

Wang hopes that this might lead to quicker and more accurate screening processes for drug development.

"Our next goal is to investigate differences of RNA activity in a live, single cell, what regulates RNA activity, and compare healthy tissue and unhealthy tissue to elucidate gene expression mechanisms and pathologies caused by abnormal RNA activity," he said.

This study was published in Nucleic Acids Research.