Date: March 30, 1999
Creator: Ayre, Brian G.; Köhler, Uwe; Haseloff, Jim & Goodman, Howard M.
Description: This article discusses the design of highly specific cytotoxins by using trans-splicing ribozymes. Abstract: We have designed ribozymes based on a self-splicing group I intron that can trans-splice exon sequences into a chosen RNA target to create a functional chimeric mRNA and provide a highly specific trigger for gene expression. We have targeted ribozymes against the coat protein mRNA of a widespread plant pathogen, cucumber mosaic virus. The ribozymes were designed to trans-splice the coding sequence of the diphtheria toxin A chain in frame with the viral initiation codon of the target sequence. Diphtheria toxin A chain catalyzes the ADP ribosylation of elongation factor 2 and can cause the cessation of protein translation. In a Saccharomyces cerevisiae model system, ribozyme expression was shown to specifically inhibit the growth of cells expressing the virus mRNA. A point mutation at the target splice site alleviated this ribozyme-mediated toxicity. Increasing the extent of base pairing between the ribozyme and target dramatically increased specific expression of the cytotoxin and reduced illegitimate toxicity in vivo. Trans-splicing ribozymes may provide a new class of agents for engineering virus resistance and therapeutic cytotoxins.
Contributing Partner: UNT College of Arts and Sciences