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New "plug-and-play" fluorophore OBI is now available


Today, Lucerna announced the launch of the newest member in its fluorophore product line, OBI (3,5-difluoro-4-hydroxybenzylidene-imidazolinone-2-oxime-1-benzoimidazole). A derivative of BI, OBI exhibits enhanced stability to Red Broccoli™ in cells. Thus, the Red Broccoli™-OBI system can now be used to more accurately monitor cellular mRNA or metabolite dynamics in real-time.


“Cellular green autofluorescence is something we all encounter when we do fluorescence imaging. So a red  fluorophore is highly desirable since it allows us to reduce nonspecific signals and get better quantification data.” said Dr. Karen Wu, President at Lucerna. “Another interesting thing is that Broccoli and Red Broccoli can bind either BI or OBI and emit in different colors. This plug-and-play feature gives more flexibility in multiplex imaging and enables the users to choose which RNA-fluorophore pair to use as based on their experimental needs.”


OBI is the latest fluorophore to came out of the laboratory of Dr, Samie Jaffrey at Weill-Cornell University. OBI was structurally engineered to reduce unproductive Red Broccoli conformations in cells.  Compared to DFHO, a fluorophore that Red Broccoli was originally evolved to bind,  Red Broccoli-OBI exhibited ~3-fold increase in overall brightness and markedly red-shifted excitation wavelength. This work was published in JACS earlier last year.


Imaging intracellular S-adenosyl methionine dynamics in live mammalian cells with genetically encoded red fluorescent RNA-based sensors  J Am Chem Soc.  July 22, 2020. LINK


Key findings from the paper include:

  • Red Broccoli can be easily engineered to develop genetically encoded red fluorescent sensors
  • Confers photostability by promoting Red Broccoli folding and preventing Red Broccoli thermal denaturing in cells
  • The spectra of Red Broccoli™-OBI is aligned with the commonly used TRITC filter cubes
  • OBI binds to Broccoli to emit green fluorescence and binds Red Broccoli to emit red fluorescence

OBI is a valuable addition to the overall Spinach™ technology platform.  In addition to metabolite sensing, the Spinach™ technology can be applied to study many emerging therapeutic targets, such as toxic RNA repeats, mis-spliced transcripts, circular RNA, oncogenic RNA-protein interactions, and more.


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About Lucerna

Lucerna, Inc. aims to be the industry leader in the development of RNA-based research and drug discovery reagents. Its motto of “making all RNA visible and druggable” reflects Lucerna’s mission to develop plug-and-play products that allow better imaging and detection of RNA, and high-throughput screening platforms that enable new drug discovery of previous intractable RNA targets. Based on exclusive worldwide rights to groundbreaking research from the laboratory of Samie R. Jaffrey, M.D., Ph.D., at Weill-Cornell University, Lucerna has generated a collection of intellectual property, know-how, and trade secrets to strengthen its market position in this newly burgeoning RNA field. Through innovation and alliances, Lucerna plans to expand its product offerings into areas related to RNA-targeted therapeutics, epitranscriptomics, biomarker detection, and single-cell analysis. Lucerna is a privately held company headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. For more information about Lucerna, please visit



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