Tactics targeting circular mRNA biosynthesis

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2023 Jul;120(7):1975-1985. doi: 10.1002/bit.28410. Epub 2023 May 1.


Faced with the development of mRNA technology in the field of medicine and vaccine, circular mRNA (circmRNA) becomes a strong alternative to mRNA for its circular secondary structure and higher stability. At present, the synthesis of circmRNAs has been realized by ligating linear mRNA precursors and is limited by poor efficiency. To solve this challenge, this study started with ribozyme catalysis and enzymatic reaction to explore different circmRNA biosynthesis strategies. In terms of ribozyme method, by screening different group I intron self-splicing system sequences, the sequence from thymidylate synthase (Td) gene of phage T4 showed the highest ligation efficiency. In terms of enzyme method, with the help of 20-bp homologous arm, T4 Rnl 2 was determined as the ligation method with the highest ligation efficiency. By comparing the two ligation methods, the expression level of circmRNA ligated by T4 Rnl 2 was 86% higher than that ligated by Td ribozyme. Based on these ligation methods, the screening results of internal ribosome entry site (IRES) sequences showed that mud crab dicistrovirus IRES was an IRES sequence with high ribosome binding ability and could be widely used in circmRNAs for efficient and stable translation in mammalian cells. These results should provide positive guidance for the industrial production of circmRNAs and the development of mRNA vaccines. Eventually, circmRNAs could widely function in the field of biomedicine.

Keywords: circular mRNA; enzymatic ligation; internal ribosome entry site; mRNA synthesis; permuted intron-exon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA, Catalytic* / genetics
  • RNA, Catalytic* / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • RNA, Catalytic
  • RNA, Messenger