Nanostructured probes for RNA detection in living cells

Philip Santangelo, Nitin Nitin, Gang Bao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The ability to visualize in real-time the expression level and localization of specific RNAs in living cells can offer tremendous opportunities for biological and disease studies. Here we review the recent development of nanostructured oligonucleotide probes for living cell RNA detection, and discuss the biological and engineering issues and challenges of quantifying gene expression in vivo. In particular, we describe methods that use dual FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) or single molecular beacons in combination with peptide-based or membrane-permeabilization-based delivery, to image the relative level, localization, and dynamics of RNA in live cells. Examples of detecting endogenous mRNAs, as well as imaging their subcellular localization and colocalization are given to illustrate the biological applications, and issues in molecular beacon design, probe delivery, and target accessibility are discussed. The nanostructured probes promise to open new and exciting opportunities in sensitive gene detection for a wide range of biological and medical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • Hairpin probe
  • Live cell
  • Molecular beacon
  • Oligonucleotide
  • Peptide
  • RNA detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Nanostructured probes for RNA detection in living cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this