The direct analysis of single biological molecules is getting increasingly important in basic as well as pharmaceutical research (e.g. for gene expression analysis). In particular single-molecule fluorescence detection provides exciting new opportunities to probe biochemical processes in unprecedented detail. Currently several academic and industrial research groups work on the development of single molecule detection based technologies in order to directly detect and analyze RNA and DNA molecules. As these developed methods are characterized as homogenous assays and obviate any amplification of the target or the signal, they provide clear advantages compared to methods like real-time PCR or DNA- arrays. In the following we describe a recently developed approach based on fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). This expression assay is based on gene-specific hybridization of two dye-labeled DNA probes to a selected target molecule (either DNA or RNA) in solution. The subsequent dual color cross-correlation analysis allows the quantification of the bio-molecule of interest in absolute numbers. Target concentrations of less than 10-12 M can be easily monitored, covering the direct analysis of the expression levels of high, medium and low abundant genes.
Keywords: gene expression analysis, dna, rna, single molecule detection and cross-correlation
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