Advances in fluorescent tracking of nucleic acids in living cells

Biotechniques. 2006 Apr;40(4):489-96. doi: 10.2144/000112121.


Nucleic acids are typically detected in morphologically preserved fixed cells and tissues using in situ hybridization techniques. This review discusses a variety of established and more challenging fluorescence-based methods for the detection and tracking of DNA or RNA sequences in living cells. Over the past few years, various fluorescent in vivo labeling methods have been developed, and dedicated microscope and image analysis tools have been designed. These advances in technologies indicate that live-cell imaging of nucleic acids is likely to become a standard research tool for understanding genome organization and gene expression regulation in the near future. Recent live-cell imaging studies have already provided important insights into the dynamic behaviors of chromatin and RNAs in the cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Probes
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / trends*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / trends*
  • RNA / analysis
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Probes


  • DNA Probes
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • RNA Probes
  • RNA
  • DNA