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J Vis Exp. 2019 Aug 22;(150). doi: 10.3791/59952.

Extremely Rapid and Specific Metabolic Labelling of RNA In Vivo with 4-Thiouracil (Ers4tU).

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Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh;
Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh.


The nucleotide analogue, 4-thiouracil (4tU), is readily taken up by cells and incorporated into RNA as it is transcribed in vivo, allowing isolation of the RNA produced during a brief period of labelling. This is done by attaching a biotin moiety to the incorporated thio group and affinity purifying, using streptavidin coated beads. Achieving a good yield of pure, newly synthesized RNA that is free of pre-existing RNA makes shorter labelling times possible and permits increased temporal resolution in kinetic studies. This is a protocol for very specific, high yield purification of newly synthesized RNA. The protocol presented here describes how RNA is extracted from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, the protocol for purification of thiolated RNA from total RNA should be effective using RNA from any organism once it has been extracted from the cells. The purified RNA is suitable for analysis by many widely used techniques, such as reverse transcriptase-qPCR, RNA-seq and SLAM-seq. The specificity, sensitivity and flexibility of this technique allow unparalleled insights into RNA metabolism.


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