RNA in the lab is extremely labile due to the presence of hard-to-inactivate RNases on human skin and in body fluids. However, these simple precautions can limit the degradation of precious RNA samples.
- Wear clean gloves and a lab coat. Be careful not to touch your face or hair with gloved hands. Remove gloves before touching items usually touched with bare hands, e.g., computer. Change gloves frequently.
- Clean work area and pipettes with RNaseZap (Ambion) prior to starting work.
- Use dedicated, RNase-free barrier pipette tips and microfuge tubes for RNA work. If RNase-free, these do NOT need to be autoclaved.
- Avoid non-disposable plastic and glassware if possible. If not, wash with 0.5% SDS and rinse thoroughly with RNase-free water. Glassware can also be baked overnight at 240°C.
- All solutions should be made with RNase-free water and used only for RNA work. RNase-free water can be obtained from commercial sources, or generated by DEPC treatment of ultrapure water. Add 0.1% v/v DEPC (diethyl pyrocarbonate; highly toxic) to water, stir overnight, then autoclave before use.
- Practice good sterile technique: when working, keep tubes and bottles closed whenever possible, and avoid coughing, sneezing, or breathing over open containers.
- Keep RNA-containing samples on ice whenever practical, and store purified RNA at –80°C in a dedicated box.