The discovery of functional small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), such as microRNAs and small interfering RNAs, in the control of human cellular processes has opened new avenues to develop RNA-based therapies for various diseases including viral infections and cancers. However, studying ncRNA functions and developing RNA-based therapeutics relies on access to large quantities of affordable ncRNA agents. Currently, synthetic RNAs account for the major source of agents for RNA research and development, yet carry artificial modifications on the ribose ring and phosphate backbone in sharp contrast to posttranscriptional modifications present on the nucleobases or unmodified natural RNA molecules produced within cells. Therefore, large efforts have been made in recent years to develop recombinant RNA techniques to cost-effectively produce biological RNA agents that may better capture the structure, function, and safety properties of natural RNAs. In this article, we summarize and compare current in vitro and in vivo methods for the production of RNA agents including chemical synthesis, in vitro transcription, and bioengineering approaches. We highlight the latest recombinant RNA approaches using transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and optimal ncRNA scaffold (OnRS), and discuss the applications of bioengineered ncRNA agents (BERAs) that should facilitate RNA research and development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology