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What Are the Different Types of RNA Purification Kits?

By Valerie Clark
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are different types of ribonucleic acid (RNA) purification kits for different cell types. For example, there are kits intended for working with tissues and cells from mammals, plants and viruses. Different RNA species correlate to different sizes, and the best RNA purification kits can accommodate all sizes and cell types. The success of RNA purification is precluded by complete cellular disruption and RNA isolation.

The objective when using an RNA purification kit is to isolate intact strands of RNA for the purpose of conducting experiments in molecular genetics. Researchers are interested in obtaining as many high-quality, intact macromolecules of RNA as possible. Complete cellular disruption is a critical first step in the RNA isolation process. Subsequent purification of RNA will be limited by the presence of any RNA strands still trapped inside the cell. Different RNA purification kits may direct a specific disruption method, depending on the cell type.

RNA can be isolated from all sorts of living tissues, including mammals, plants and viruses. The basic structure of RNA includes a backbone made of nucleotides while the overall size can vary. The genetic information contained in mitochondrial RNA, ribosomal RNA and transfer RNA are commonly used for genetic studies. These RNA types are represented as mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA, respectively. A tmRNA strand has characteristics of both mRNA and tRNA.

Purification of RNA is the step that follows RNA isolation and effectively prepares the sample to react. RNA purification kits typically include a binding agent that is specifically intended to bond with RNA molecules. The remaining non-RNA sample contents are washed away prior to analysis, and what remains in the sample tube is purely RNA.

Different RNA purification kits will include a different number of reactions. The capacity can range anywhere from 10 to 100 or more reactions. Manufacturers of RNA purification kits generally include some indication of sample yield. The results of RNA purification are obtained by electrophoresis. In general, the greater the yield, the better the kit will perform.

The best RNA purification kits do not include harmful chemicals, can isolate RNA from a single cell and are capable of isolating a wide diversity of RNA species. RNA purification kits such as these may not include the components needed for cellular disruption and RNA isolation, because this step is done independently, prior to the purification process. Specialized RNA purification kits for plant tissues, viral cells and bacteria also are available.

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