Technological watch

Modulating myoblast differentiation with RNA-based controllers

AbstractTunable genetic controllers play a critical role in the engineering of biological systems that respond to environmental and cellular signals. RNA devices, a class of engineered RNA-based controllers, enable tunable gene expression control of target genes in response to molecular effectors. RNA devices have been demonstrated in a number of systems showing proof-of-concept of applying ligand-responsive control over therapeutic activities, including regulation of cell fate decisions such as T cell proliferation and apoptosis. Here, we describe the application of a theophylline-responsive RNA device in a muscle progenitor cell system to control myogenic differentiation. Ribozyme-based RNA switches responsive to theophylline control fluorescent reporter expression in C2C12 myoblasts in a ligand dependent manner. HRAS and JAK1, both anti-differentiation proteins, were incorporated into RNA devices. Finally, we demonstrate that the regulation of HRAS expression via theophylline-responsive RNA devices results in the modulation of myoblast differentiation in a theophylline-dependent manner. Our work highlights the potential for RNA devices to exert drug-responsive, tunable control over cell fate decisions with applications in stem cell therapy and basic stem cell biology research.

Publication date: 27/09/2022

Author: Peter B. Dykstra,  Thomas A. Rando,  Christina D. Smolke




This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.