Cell-specific restriction of viral replication without concomitant attenuation can benefit vaccine development, gene therapy, oncolytic virotherapy, and understanding the biological properties of viruses. There are several mechanisms for regulating viral tropism, however they tend to be virus class specific and many result in virus attenuation. Additionally, many viruses, including picornaviruses, exhibit size constraints that do not allow for incorporation of large amounts of foreign genetic material required for some targeting methods. MicroRNAs are short, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression in eukaryotic cells by binding complementary target sequences in messenger RNAs, preventing their translation or accelerating their degradation. Different cells exhibit distinct microRNA signatures and many microRNAs serve as biomarkers. These differential expression patterns can be exploited for restricting gene expression in cells that express specific microRNAs while maintaining expression in cells that do not. In regards to regulating viral tropism, sequences complementary to specific microRNAs are incorporated into the viral genome, generally in the 3' non-coding regions, targeting them for destruction in the presence of the cognate microRNAs thus preventing viral gene expression and/or replication. MicroRNA-targeting is a technique that theoretically can be applied to all viral vectors without altering the potency of the virus in the absence of the corresponding microRNAs. Here we describe experimental methods associated with generating a microRNA-targeted picornavirus and evaluating the efficacy and specificity of that targeting in vitro. This protocol is designed for a rapidly replicating virus with a lytic replication cycle, however, modification of the time points analyzed and the specific virus titration readouts used will aid in the adaptation of this protocol to many different viruses.
- Gene expression
- Issue 120
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)