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New Research Tool Targets MicroRNA Expression In Zebrafish

March 17, 2011

A new research tool for studying microRNA expression in zebrafish will help researchers study the effects of miRNA on the early development of this model organism and better understand developmental and disease mechanisms in humans, as described in Zebrafish, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online ahead of print.

Researchers from University of Oregon (Eugene) have developed a novel, cost-effective method for measuring the expression of microRNAs (miRNA) in specific tissues in developing zebrafish embryos. miRNAs play an important role in regulating embryonic development. They are difficult to detect because they are very short strands of oligonucleotide and are often present in cells at low levels. Xinjun He, Yi-Lin Yan, April DeLaurier, and John Postlethwait describe the efficient technique they devised using digoxigenin-labeled riboprobes (oligonucleotide-based probe sequences capable of binding to a complementary miRNA sequence) in in situ hybridization (ISH) experiments. Their work is presented in the article, “Observation of miRNA Gene Expression in Zebrafish Embryos by In Situ Hybridization to MicroRNA Primary Transcripts.”

“This is a terrific new addition to the zebrafish toolbox, opening the door to an array of new experiments focused on the biology of non-coding RNAs using this superb model system,” says Stephen Ekker, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Zebrafish and Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

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