As the knowledge of the biological functions of RNA expands, the demand for research tools to investigate intracellular RNA is increasing. Oligonucleotides can be rationally designed for the target RNA sequence, and therefore, have become a reliable platform for the development of specific molecules for RNA. The chemical modification of RNA has a strong impact on RNA research; the fluorescent labeling of RNA is useful to monitor RNA production, processing, relocation in the cell, interaction with other intracellular components and degradation, etc. Chemical modification may affect the RNA function through a variety of pathways, and therefore, would be potentially useful for biological research, therapeutic approach and artificial manipulation of the RNA function. This tutorial review starts with an introduction of the biological relevance of modified RNA, and focuses on the recent progress of the oligodeoxynucleotide probes for the covalent modifications of RNA. The prospects of this new technology are also discussed.
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