Monthly Archives: April 2012

RNA extractions

There’s something slightly disconcerting about going back to something that used to be an every day occurrence, only to realise you’re not quite sure how to do it any more. Like the first time I got in a boat, about a year after I’d stopped rowing, and found that suddenly I was skimming my blade and forgetting to feather. Or the first time I tried to roast a chicken, having been vegetarian for the past 5 years, and couldn’t remember how to get butter under its skin. 

Today I have mainly been doing RNA extractions. For the first few months of my PhD I did a lot of RNA extractions. And in the next few months I will also need to do a lot. Hundreds in fact. If I use up all of my harvested tissue… about 500 I think? Yeah, something tells me I’m cutting down my sample size.

Anyway, I haven’t extracted any RNA in near enough a year, so today has been a bit of a trial run, and it’s made me quite nervous: realising just how much I’ve forgotten. 

Some things I have remembered today:
– Safety specs. They’re quite a good idea, but not something I regularly use while setting up PCRs, or cloning. I didn’t remember just how much I liked them until the first time I splashed some TRIzol and promptly went Ohhhh HELL. No harm done, but I quickly dug those out of the cupboard!
– Isopropanol pellets like to move. Kids, here’s a tip from your aunty BB: if you’re doing an isopropanol wash, you had better have your hand on the centrifuge as it’s slowing down. Because if you leave that supernatant in there for a minute then the pellet will decide to float away. And THAT is frustrating! 
– Liquid nitrogen burns hurt. A lot.  If I were to have a burning kleptomaniac urge to rob a bank, today would be the day to do it. Even double gloving (no really, that’s not a sex joke) my fingerprints on my left hand are definitely not quite what they used to be. 
– As much of a lab ninja you may feel when you can dissolve RNA at 3000 ng / uL, there isn’t much point when you’ll have to add 5 times as much water before you can put it down a Qiagen column. But it does make you feel ninja-y.  

And on that note, I hear the centrifuge slowing down… Toodles!