Modulating endogenous gene expression of mammalian cells via RNA-small molecule interaction

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Nov 7;376(1):169-73. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.08.112. Epub 2008 Aug 31.


RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a powerful technology to silence arbitrary genes by designing small RNA constructs based on the targeted messenger RNA sequences. We recently developed a small molecule-controlled RNAi gene switch that combined the molecular recognition by in vitro selected RNA aptamers with versatile gene silencing by small interfering RNAs, and demonstrated for the first time, posttranscriptional modulation of RNAi through direct RNA-small molecule interaction. In this report, we describe the first application of this technology to regulate an endogenous gene in mammalian cells. As a proof-of-concept demonstration we chose to modulate expression of albumin-serum protein produced by the liver. We designed and constructed a theophylline aptamer-fused short hairpin RNA (shRNA) expression vector targeting albumin mRNA in hepatic (HepG2) cells. Transfection of HepG2 cells with the aptamer-shRNA expression vector allowed to control albumin gene expression by adding theophylline into the culture media in dose dependent fashion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / chemistry
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • RNA Interference* / drug effects
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • Serum Albumin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Serum Albumin / genetics
  • Theophylline / pharmacology
  • Transfection


  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Serum Albumin
  • Theophylline