Mar 22, 2016

Using RNA as Molecular Code for Programming Cellular Function

ACS Synthetic Biology
Manish KushwahaAlfonso Jaramillo


RNA is involved in a wide-range of important molecular processes in the cell, serving diverse functions: regulatory, enzymatic, and structural. Together with its ease and predictability of design, these properties can lead RNA to become a useful handle for biological engineers with which to control the cellular machinery. By modifying the many RNA links in cellular processes, it is possible to reprogram cells toward specific design goals. We propose that RNA can be viewed as a molecular programming language that, together with protein-based execution platforms, can be used to rewrite wide ranging aspects of cellular function. In this review, we catalogue developments in the use of RNA parts, methods, and associated computational models that have contributed to the programmability of biology. We discuss how RNA part repertoires have been combined to build complex genetic circuits, and review recent applications of RNA-based parts and circuitry. We explore the future potential of RNA engineering and posit that RNA programmability is an important resource for firmly establishing an era of rationally designed synthetic biology.

Mentioned in this Paper

Cellular Process
Executive Function
Protein Biosynthesis
RNA Editing
Programming Languages

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