Molecular beacon (MB) is a new tool to isolate cells, based on intracellular genetic marker. Specific molecular beacons were designed for positive selection of particular cell types. The next step in development of MB – universal RNA beacon – was recently described:
Here, we report on an off-the-shelf universal beacon that targets a nonsense tag placed in the untranslated region of a functional protein or even a biomarker. We show that UB technology allows for detection and high-throughput separation of any exogenous gene without altering the properties of the protein product.
The beacon was designed for detection of exogenously introduced genes. The study describes universal MB design. Beacon has a fluorescent tag for sorting by FACS. The authors tested it in positive and negative selection for 2 markers – pluripotency gene Nanog and pacemaker channel gene HCN2. They were able to select Nanog+ cells with purity ~99%.
The authors highlight advantages of universal beacon:
… developing a successful, specific beacon to a particular transfected gene can take months to develop and in some cases is impossible. Here, we report on an off-the-shelf universal beacon that decreases the time and cost of applying beacon technology to select any living cell population transfected with an exogenous gene.
I found this approach very interesting and promising. As of now – for research. What do you think?