Creating small transcription activating RNAs

James Chappell, Melissa K. Takahashi, Julius B. Lucks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


We expanded the mechanistic capability of small RNAs by creating an entirely synthetic mode of regulation: small transcription activating RNAs (STARs). Using two strategies, we engineered synthetic STAR regulators to disrupt the formation of an intrinsic transcription terminator placed upstream of a gene in Escherichia coli. This resulted in a group of four highly orthogonal STARs that had up to 94-fold activation. By systematically modifying sequence features of this group, we derived design principles for STAR function, which we then used to forward engineer a STAR that targets a terminator found in the Escherichia coli genome. Finally, we showed that STARs could be combined in tandem to create previously unattainable RNA-only transcriptional logic gates. STARs provide a new mechanism of regulation that will expand our ability to use small RNAs to construct synthetic gene networks that precisely control gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-220
Number of pages7
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Creating small transcription activating RNAs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this