Novel RNA Viral Vectors for Chemically Regulated Gene Expression in Embryonic Stem Cells

ACS Synth Biol. 2021 Nov 19;10(11):2959-2967. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00214. Epub 2021 Oct 22.


RNA viral vectors that replicate without DNA intermediates are attractive platforms for manipulation of cells for biomedical and veterinary applications because they have minimal risk of chromosomal integration. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) vectors are among the most well-studied RNA viral vectors due to their low pathogenicity to humans and ability to express transgenes at high levels for weeks to months. However, their applications have been mostly limited to oncolytic and vaccine vectors due to their cytopathogenicity. We discovered two mutations in the VSV vector that synergistically confer improved stability in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) with markedly lower cytopathic effects. We also demonstrated chemical regulation of transgene expression through embedded riboswitches. The ESCs infected with the mutant vector were shown to maintain pluripotency. This new vector sets the stage for precise regulation of gene expression in ESCs to produce a variety of differentiated cells without chromosomal alteration.

Keywords: RNA virus; aptazyme; embryonic stem cells; riboswitch; vesicular stomatitis virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Riboswitch / genetics
  • Transgenes / genetics
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / genetics
  • Vesiculovirus / genetics
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • RNA, Viral
  • Riboswitch