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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

DNAzyme-mediated recovery of small recombinant RNAs from a 5S rRNA-derived chimera expressed in Escherichia coli

Yamei Liu1, Victor G Stepanov1, Ulrich Strych1, Richard C Willson12, George W Jackson3 and George E Fox1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

2 Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

3 BioTex, Inc, Houston, TX, USA

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BMC Biotechnology 2010, 10:85  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-10-85

Published: 6 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Manufacturing large quantities of recombinant RNAs by overexpression in a bacterial host is hampered by their instability in intracellular environment. To overcome this problem, an RNA of interest can be fused into a stable bacterial RNA for the resulting chimeric construct to accumulate in the cytoplasm to a sufficiently high level. Being supplemented with cost-effective procedures for isolation of the chimera from cells and recovery of the recombinant RNA from stabilizing scaffold, this strategy might become a viable alternative to the existing methods of chemical or enzymatic RNA synthesis.

Results

Sequence encoding a 71-nucleotide recombinant RNA was inserted into a plasmid-borne deletion mutant of the Vibrio proteolyticus 5S rRNA gene in place of helix III - loop C segment of the original 5S rRNA. After transformation into Escherichia coli, the chimeric RNA (3×pen aRNA) was expressed constitutively from E. coli rrnB P1 and P2 promoters. The RNA chimera accumulated to levels that exceeded those of the host's 5S rRNA. A novel method relying on liquid-solid partitioning of cellular constituents was developed for isolation of total RNA from bacterial cells. This protocol avoids toxic chemicals, and is therefore more suitable for large scale RNA purification than traditional methods. A pair of biotinylated 8-17 DNAzymes was used to bring about the quantitative excision of the 71-nt recombinant RNA from the chimera. The recombinant RNA was isolated by sequence-specific capture on beads with immobilized complementary deoxyoligonucleotide, while DNAzymes were recovered by biotin affinity chromatography for reuse.

Conclusions

The feasibility of a fermentation-based approach for manufacturing large quantities of small RNAs in vivo using a "5S rRNA scaffold" strategy is demonstrated. The approach provides a route towards an economical method for the large-scale production of small RNAs including shRNAs, siRNAs and aptamers for use in clinical and biomedical research.