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Simultaneous visualization of the subfemtomolar expression of microRNA and microRNA target gene using HILO microscopy

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Abstract

The family of microRNAs (miRNAs) not only plays an important role in gene regulation but is also useful for the diagnosis of diseases. A reliable method with high sensitivity may allow researchers to detect slight fluctuations in ultra-trace amounts of miRNA. In this study, we propose a sensitive imaging method for the direct probing of miR-10b (miR-10b-3p, also called miR-10b*) and its target (HOXD10 mRNA) in fixed cells based on the specific recognition of molecular beacons combined with highly inclined and laminated optical sheet (HILO) fluorescence microscopy. The designed dye-quencher-labelled molecular beacons offer excellent efficiencies of fluorescence resonance energy transfer that allow us to detect miRNA and the target mRNA simultaneously in hepatocellular carcinoma cells using HILO fluorescence microscopy. Not only can the basal trace amount of miRNA be observed in each individual cell, but the obtained images also indicate that this method is useful for monitoring the fluctuations in ultra-trace amounts of miRNA when the cells are transfected with a miRNA precursor or a miRNA inhibitor (anti-miR). Furthermore, a reasonable causal relation between the miR-10b and HOXD10 expression levels was observed in miR-10b* precursor-transfected cells and miR-10b* inhibitor-transfected cells. The trends of the miRNA alterations obtained using HILO microscopy completely matched the RT-qPCR data and showed remarkable reproducibility (the coefficient of variation [CV] = 0.86%) and sensitivity (<1.0 fM). This proposed imaging method appears to be useful for the simultaneous visualisation of ultra-trace amounts of miRNA and target mRNA and excludes the procedures for RNA extraction and amplification. Therefore, the visualisation of miRNA and the target mRNA should facilitate the exploration of the functions of ultra-trace amounts of miRNA in fixed cells in biological studies and may serve as a powerful tool for diagnoses based on circulating cancer cells.

Graphical abstract: Simultaneous visualization of the subfemtomolar expression of microRNA and microRNA target gene using HILO microscopy

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Jun 2017, accepted on 27 Jul 2017 and first published on 31 Jul 2017


Article type: Edge Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7SC02701J
Citation: Chem. Sci., 2017, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    Simultaneous visualization of the subfemtomolar expression of microRNA and microRNA target gene using HILO microscopy

    Y. Lin, D. Ou, H. Chang, W. Lin, C. Hsu and P. Chang, Chem. Sci., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SC02701J

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