ncRNA Core - NUS Medical Sciences Cluster

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Our Mission

The NUS Medical Science Cluster (MSC) noncoding RNA (ncRNA) Core at Dept. of Biochemistry, headed by Dr. Jit Kong CHEONG, seeks to support NUS/NUHS investigators in interrogating intracellular and/or circulatory ncRNA profiles/functions in diverse experimental and clinical specimens [including biofluids, fresh cells/tissues, and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue blocks].

What are ncRNAs?

Up until recent years, RNA was implicated by Francis Crick’s central dogma as the key messenger between DNA and protein. With the advent of new technologies, we now know that the human genome encodes a vast repertoire of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which was thought to be meaningless “dark matter”. Our current understanding of ncRNAs may look like an intertwined mess of molecules, but collectively they exhibit architecture and coordination, leading to elegantly choreographed regulation of DNA and protein by RNA. While ncRNAs constitute more than 90 percent of the RNAs made from the human genome, most of the 30,000-plus known ncRNAs have been discovered in the past 10 years and are largely unstudied. To date, the most studied ncRNAs are microRNAs (miRNAs, 15-23 nucleotides long), with emerging evidence in the literature of other types of experimentally identified ncRNAs of diverse lengths and characteristics is growing steadily over the past few years.

Key capabilities of ncRNA Core:

Currently, to achieve the goals of discovering and/or validating ncRNAs as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for human diseases, we collaborate with the NUS/A*STAR spin-off, MiRXES PTE LTD, to provide unbiased or candidate miRNA profiling and subsequent validation of specific miRNA expression. This technology is qPCR based and highly suitable for quantifying miRNA expression levels in minute amount of samples and biofluids (see below for video presentation of MiRXES’ core technology).

A seamless ncRNA profiling workflow is enabled by:

  1. Manual or fully automated RNA extraction
  2. Sample:qPCR master mix addition to assay panels via automated liquid handlers
  3. RT-qPCR via Thermo Fisher Scientific QuantStudio 5 Real-Time PCR System (384-well)

The ncRNA core offers a daily throughput of approximately 4,000 RT-qPCRs for miRNA expression profiling in a wide variety of experimental (e.g. cell culture, animal xenografts, etc) as well as clinical samples (e.g. FFPE sections, serum, plasma, urine, tears, etc). Standard pipeline analysis of data includes data normalization and identification of differentially expressed miRNAs via fold change plots as well as volcano analysis.

Email us ( to start a project together!

 We are located at:

Dept. of Biochemistry, MD7 Level 3 (benches 16-18).