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A*STAR researchers have developed a rapid, high-throughput screening procedure that can detect RNA aptamers—special messenger RNA molecules (mRNAs) able to sense and respond to particular cellular chemicals—in a sea of normal mRNA extracted from cells.
The process, developed by a team led by Yue Wan of the A*STAR Genome Institute of Singapore, is known as PARCEL or 'Parallel Analysis of RNA Conformations Exposed to Ligand binding'. Wan hopes the technique will become a standard tool in gene regulation research.
PARCEL - Way - Aptamers - Cell - Type
"PARCEL provides a very rapid way to find RNA aptamers in almost any cell type," she says.
RNA aptamers are very specific: they sense just one chemical by binding to it, which can alter their shape. By comparing the shapes of mRNA molecules extracted from cells, grown in either the presence or absence of the target chemical, PARCEL can spot the few mRNAs able to sense that chemical.
Chemicals - Metabolites - Role - Cell - Biochemistry
The chemicals sensed are usually metabolites that play a significant role in the cell's biochemistry, says Wan.
To date, PARCEL has found 58 new RNA aptamers—a significant addition to the few natural RNA aptamers that were already known.
MRNA - Aptamers
Importantly, a few mRNA aptamers have been previously shown not only to sense a...
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