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Regulation of T cell proliferation with drug-responsive microRNA switches.

  • Author(s): Wong, Remus S
  • Chen, Yvonne Y
  • Smolke, Christina D
  • et al.
Abstract

As molecular and cellular therapies advance in the clinic, the role of genetic regulation is becoming increasingly important for controlling therapeutic potency and safety. The emerging field of mammalian synthetic biology provides promising tools for the construction of regulatory platforms that can intervene with endogenous pathways and control cell behavior. Recent work has highlighted the development of synthetic biological systems that integrate sensing of molecular signals to regulated therapeutic function in various disease settings. However, the toxicity and limited dosing of currently available molecular inducers have largely inhibited translation to clinical settings. In this work, we developed synthetic microRNA-based genetic systems that are controlled by the pharmaceutical drug leucovorin, which is readily available and safe for prolonged administration in clinical settings. We designed microRNA switches to target endogenous cytokine receptor subunits (IL-2Rβ and γc) that mediate various signaling pathways in T cells. We demonstrate the function of these control systems by effectively regulating T cell proliferation with the drug input. Each control system produced unique functional responses, and combinatorial targeting of multiple receptor subunits exhibited greater repression of cell growth. This work highlights the potential use of drug-responsive genetic control systems to improve the management and safety of cellular therapeutics.

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