Posted in Biology Basics

RNA: An Introduction

While RNA is built on the same backbone and structural concept as DNA (read this post for a refresher!), its slight biological differences lead to significant functional diversity. We’ll examine the structure of RNA molecules first, then dig more deeply into the myriad of functions performed by these molecules within (and even outside of!) the cell. Continue reading “RNA: An Introduction”

Posted in Sequencing Technology and Methods

Nucleic Acid Fragmentation: Three Methods

An essential step in preparing total RNA or genomic DNA samples for sequencing is cutting them down into usable fragments. For Illumina instruments, the bridge amplification aspect of the sequencing process works best when these fragments are between 100 and 1000 nucleotides long, and quality is improved by using fragments within a narrow size range (ideally no more than 200bp spread). There are several different techniques for accomplishing this: nebulization, sonication, and enzymatic fragmentation.

Continue reading “Nucleic Acid Fragmentation: Three Methods”

Posted in Sequencing Technology and Methods

Stranded mRNA Sequencing

mRNA – messenger RNA – is typically around 5% of the total RNA in a cell, and in most eukaryotic organisms the vast majority of it is tagged with a poly(A) tail. This allows these molecules to be isolated out from a total RNA sample, reducing the number of reads needed to sequence the transcriptome or analyze gene expression. Continue reading “Stranded mRNA Sequencing”

Posted in Sequencing Technology and Methods

What is a RIN score?

It’s always useful to have a method for determining the relative quality of one’s source material. If you’re starting with garbage, you’re unlikely to have anything but garbage at the end, no matter how well you execute your protocols or how skillfully you massage your data. For RNA, one of the primary means of determining quality is the RNA Integrity Number, or RIN score, developed by Agilent. Continue reading “What is a RIN score?”