Discover Why RNA Interactions and Binding Kinetics Matter

Using SPR for RNA Binding Kinetics at Rustbelt Meeting 2015

We recently attended the wonderful Rustbelt RNA meeting in Sandusky, Ohio organized by Blanton Tolbert and Charles Hoogstraten. The yearly meeting attracts top-quality participants from prestigious schools from the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic regions in the United states and Canada. It was refreshing to chat with so many skilled researchers who spend hours investigating one of the world’s most important biomolecules. For those of you aren’t familiar with RNA – it’s the messenger that carries the instructions from DNA for protein synthesis. That’s right, without RNA, there would be no proteins, and in some viruses, RNA actually carries the genetic information itself. This year’s presentations and poster session were held at The Sawmill Creek Resort and Conference Center with an interesting wilderness theme. While chatting with RNA researchers, we noticed a common trend in our conversations that we wanted to share with you: there is a definite need for innovative surface plasmon resonance technology to determine RNA interactions and binding kinetics, and here are the top 4 reasons why.

1) RNA interactions have moved past yes-no binding

Many techniques can only tell you if an RNA interaction is happening or not. Some techniques can give you a bit more detailed information such as the binding affinity, but not without complicated and time consuming labeling steps. Although this data is important, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To fully characterize an RNA interaction, you need to look at what is happening in real time – the binding kinetics of the interaction. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) gives you this data, providing you with deeper insight into your interactions, without the need for labels. RNA binding kinetics is especially important for drug design applications. During the poster session, a University of Waterloo researcher showed how OpenSPR can be easily used to characterize a RNA-small molecule interactions.

2) Older surface plasmon resonance instruments just aren’t worth it anymore

You need to analyze your RNA binding kinetics now, but your SPR instrument is broken. Does this sound familiar to you? You would be surprised at the amount of researchers who are limited by old surface plasmon resonance instruments with hefty maintenance contracts. Keeping an old SPR instrument running is not only painful and time-consuming, it can also seriously affect your lab funds. Every researcher should be able to analyze RNA interactions without the struggle of needing to fix their instruments every few months.

3) The cost of sensor chips is just too much

You shouldn’t have to spend a few hundred dollars every time you need a new sensor chip. RNA researchers expressed that the cost of traditional SPR consumables is just too high for the volume of binding data they need. Costs can quickly rack up especially for those who are looking at new interactions that require a lot of optimization and exploration. We think that getting good RNA binding kinetics should not be significantly more expensive than other lab techniques.

4) Teaching labs are outdated and don’t expose students to relevant techniques necessary for research

Many professors would like to provide their students with hands-on training in binding kinetics to better understand RNA and other biomolecular systems. The cost and complexity of traditional SPR instruments does not allow for use in an educational setting, so professors and lab instructors have to settle for outdated lab techniques that are just not used in active research settings anymore. The simplicity of a technique or instrument is also always stressed in educational settings, because teaching lab time is precious and labs must go smoothly.

Innovative technology is needed to help scientists expedite getting the data they need. It was great meeting scientists with cutting-edge research and receiving positive feedback about our surface plasmon resonance solution for RNA interactions. We think OpenSPR will revolutionize the way RNA research is conducted by helping researchers dig deeper into their interactions. We look forward to the next Rustbelt RNA meeting.