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Novel approaches for efficient  in vivo fermentation production of noncoding RNAs


Genome-derived noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including microRNAs (miRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), play an essential role in the control of target gene expression underlying various cellular processes, and dysregulation of ncRNAs is involved in the pathogenesis and progression of various diseases in virtually all species including humans. Understanding ncRNA biology has opened new avenues to develop novel RNA-based therapeutics. Presently, ncRNA research and drug development is dominated by the use of ncRNA mimics that are synthesized chemically in vitro and supplemented with extensive and various types of artificial modifications and thus may not necessarily recapitulate the properties of natural RNAs generated and folded in living cells in vivo. Therefore, there are growing interests in developing novel technologies for in vivo production of RNA molecules. The two most recent major breakthroughs in achieving an efficient, large-scale, and cost-effective fermentation production of recombinant or bioengineered RNAs (e.g., tens of milligrams from 1 L of bacterial culture) are (1) using stable RNA carriers and (2) direct overexpression in RNase III-deficient bacteria, while other approaches offer a low yield (e.g., nano- to microgram scales per liter). In this article, we highlight these novel microbial fermentation-based technologies that have shifted the paradigm to the production of true biological ncRNA molecules for research and development.

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This study was supported by National Cancer Institute (grant No. R01CA225958) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01GM113888), National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Ai-Ming Yu.

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The authors are named inventors of patent applications related to RNA bioengineering technology and utilities that are owned by the UC Davis, and Dr. Yu is a founder of AimRNA, Inc. which has an agreement to license the intellectual property.

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Yu, A., Batra, N., Tu, M. et al. Novel approaches for efficient  in vivo fermentation production of noncoding RNAs. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 104, 1927–1937 (2020).

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  • Noncoding RNA
  • MicroRNA
  • siRNA
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology