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Design, Assembly, Production, and Transfection of Synthetic Modified mRNA

Oh, Sanders, Kessler, John A.
Methods 2018 v.133 pp. 29-43
genes, immune response, messenger RNA, transfection
Proteins are drivers of cell functions and are targets of many therapies. Exogenous protein expression techniques, therefore, have been essential for research and medicine. The most common method for exogenous protein expression relies on DNA-based viral or non-viral vectors. However, DNA-based vectors have the potential to integrate into the host genome and cause permanent mutations. RNA-based vectors solve this shortcoming. In particular, synthetic modified mRNA provides non-viral, integration-free, zero-footprint method for expressing proteins. Modified mRNA can direct cell fate specification and cellular reprogramming faster and more efficiently than other methods. Furthermore, when simultaneously express multiple different proteins, mRNA vectors allow for greater flexibility and control over stoichiometric ratios, dose titrations, and complete silencing of expressions. Additionally, modified mRNAs have been shown to be viable and safe as therapeutic agents for gene therapy and vaccine, providing an alternative approach to address diseases. Despite these advantages, technical challenge, mRNA instability, and host immunogenicity have caused significant barriers to widespread use of this technology. The comprehensive method presented here addresses all of these shortcomings. This stepwise protocol describes every step necessary for the synthesis of modified mRNA from any coding DNA sequence of interest. The meticulously detailed protocol enables the users to make alterations to each component of modified mRNA for even more significant customization, allowing the researchers to apply this technology to a wide range of uses. This non-cytotoxic synthetic modified mRNA can be used for protein expression, regulation of cell reprogramming or differentiation, and drug delivery.