Editors' ChoiceMEDICINE

Gene Expression by Remote Control

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Science Signaling  08 May 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 223, pp. ec132
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003192

Techniques that allow remote, noninvasive activation of specific genes in specific tissues could one day be applied to regulate expression of therapeutic proteins in a clinical setting. In a proof-of-concept study, Stanley et al. showed that heating of iron oxide nanoparticles by radio waves can remotely activate insulin gene expression in cultured cells and in a mouse model. Heating of membrane-targeted nanoparticles induced opening of a temperature-sensitive membrane channel in the cells and triggered calcium entry. The intracellular calcium signal in turn stimulated expression of an engineered insulin gene, leading to the synthesis and release of insulin. In experiments with mice bearing tumors that expressed the engineered insulin gene, exposure to radio waves promoted secretion of insulin from the tumors and lowered blood glucose levels in the animals.

S. A. Stanley, J. E. Gagner, S. Damanpour, M. Yoshida, J. S. Dordick, J. M. Friedman, Radio-wave heating of iron oxide nanoparticles can regulate plasma glucose in mice. Science 336, 604–608 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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