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Science 330 (6008): 1185-1186

Copyright © 2010 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Cell Biology

The Case for RNA

Chang C. Liu1,2, and Adam P. Arkin1,3,4

A major challenge in cell-based biotechnology is to engineer gene regulatory systems that can detect signals defined by users and then effect desired changes in the expression of targeted genes. On page 1251 of this issue, Culler et al. (1) take an innovative step toward meeting this challenge. They describe the use of short segments of RNA to create programmable "control devices" that, when triggered by the presence of certain proteins, rewire gene expression pathways and change the behavior of human cells. The work highlights the promise of RNA as a molecular platform for engineering predictable and customized gene regulation systems and potentially using such synthetic systems to treat disease.

1 Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
2 Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
3 Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
4 QB3: California Institute for Quantitative Biological Research, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

E-mail: ccliu{at}; aparkin{at}

Model-Driven Engineering of RNA Devices to Quantitatively Program Gene Expression.
J. M. Carothers, J. A. Goler, D. Juminaga, and J. D. Keasling (2011)
Science 334, 1716-1719
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