New generations of MS2 variants and MCP fusions to detect single mRNAs in living eukaryotic cells

Xavier Pichon, Marie Cécile Robert, Edouard Bertrand, Robert H. Singer, Evelina Tutucci

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


Live imaging of single RNA from birth to death brought important advances in our understanding of the spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression. These studies have provided a comprehensive understanding of RNA metabolism by describing the process step by step. Most of these studies used for live imaging a genetically encoded RNA-tagging system fused to fluorescent proteins. One of the best characterized RNA-tagging systems is derived from the bacteriophage MS2 and it allows single RNA imaging in real-time and live cells. This system has been successfully used to track the different steps of mRNA processing in many living organisms. The recent development of optimized MS2 and MCP variants now allows the labeling of endogenous RNAs and their imaging without modifying their behavior. In this chapter, we discuss the improvements in detecting single mRNAs with different variants of MCP and fluorescent proteins that we tested in yeast and mammalian cells. Moreover, we describe protocols using MS2-MCP systems improved for real-time imaging of single mRNAs and transcription dynamics in S. cerevisiae and mammalian cells, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Gene expression
  • MS2-MCP system
  • Mammalian cells
  • S. cerevisiae
  • Single cell
  • Single molecule
  • Transcription
  • mRNA labeling
  • mRNA localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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