Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Am Klopferspitz 18, Germany
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The repertoire of RNAs transcribed and processed within living cells is of extraordinary complexity. With new types of RNA being identified, the need for tools to investigate the spatio-temporal aspects of processing and trafficking of these molecules has become more evident. To visualize RNA in living cells, autofluorescent proteins (AFPs) appear as a promising alternative to synthetic fluorescent compound based labels. While current fluorescent protein-based RNA labelings have provided many new insights into the biology of RNA regulation, further improvements and adaptations are desirable to make AFP labels as valuable in the RNA world as they have proven to be for protein tagging. This article reviews the achievements and existing challenges in engineering AFPs as efficient RNA tags for high resolution fluorescence microscopy in living cells.
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