A central aim of synthetic biology is to develop strategies and tools to allow control of gene expression to engineer biological systems.
Julius Lucks and colleagues, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, think that RNA is one of the most powerful substrates for engineering gene expression. This is due to the combination of RNA being a versatile, designable, and now – thanks to next-generation sequencing methods – broadly characterizable regulator of gene expression. Natural and synthetic RNA regulators of gene expression act at key points of control, namely transcription, mRNA degradation, and translation.
To study the structure and function of RNA, RNA structural probing and computational RNA structure predication tools are possible.
Currently, conceivably RNA synthetic biology is still mainly in the phase of engineering basic regulatory parts. However, its emerging transition toward engineering networks and higher-order regulatory systems holds great promise for synthetic biology as a whole.
- Review: The centrality of RNA for engineering gene expression,
James Chappell, Melissa K. Takahashi, Sarai Meyer, David Loughrey, Kyle E. Watters, Julius Lucks,
Biotechnol. J. 2013.