We describe the development of a sensitive fluorescence-based solution assay for RNA using a new dye, RiboGreen RNA quantitation reagent. RiboGreen reagent exhibits >1000-fold fluorescence enhancement and high quantum yield (0.65) upon binding nucleic acids, with excitation and emission maxima near those of fluorescein. Unbound dye is essentially nonfluorescent and has a large extinction coefficient (67,000 cm-1 M-1). The RiboGreen assay allows detection of as little as 1.0 ng/ml RNA in a standard fluorometer, filter fluorometer, or fluorescence microplate reader-surpassing the sensitivity achieved with ethidium bromide by 200-fold. The linear quantitation range for RiboGreen reagent extends over three orders of magnitude in RNA concentration. Using 750 nM RiboGreen reagent, we quantitated 20 ng/ml to 1.0 microg/ml RNA. By diluting the reagent to 75 nM, we could quantitate 1.0 to 50 ng/ml RNA. Both assay ranges exhibited linear fluorescence increases versus RNA concentration (r2 = 0.999). Assay linearity was maintained in the presence of salts, protein, urea, ethanol, chloroform, agarose, and some detergents. Several different RNA types yielded similar signal intensities and detection sensitivities. The assay is easy to use, rapid, and readily adaptable for automation.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.