RNA-based translation activators for targeted gene upregulation

Yang Cao, Huachun Liu, Shannon S. Lu, Krysten A. Jones, Anitha P. Govind, Okunola Jeyifous, Christine Q. Simmons, Negar Tabatabaei, William N. Green, Jimmy L. Holder, Soroush Tahmasebi, Alfred L. George, Bryan C. Dickinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Technologies capable of programmable translation activation offer strategies to develop therapeutics for diseases caused by insufficient gene expression. Here, we present “translation-activating RNAs” (taRNAs), a bifunctional RNA-based molecular technology that binds to a specific mRNA of interest and directly upregulates its translation. taRNAs are constructed from a variety of viral or mammalian RNA internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) and upregulate translation for a suite of target mRNAs. We minimize the taRNA scaffold to 94 nucleotides, identify two translation initiation factor proteins responsible for taRNA activity, and validate the technology by amplifying SYNGAP1 expression, a haploinsufficiency disease target, in patient-derived cells. Finally, taRNAs are suitable for delivery as RNA molecules by lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to cell lines, primary neurons, and mouse liver in vivo. taRNAs provide a general and compact nucleic acid-based technology to upregulate protein production from endogenous mRNAs, and may open up possibilities for therapeutic RNA research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6827
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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