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1.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1536, 2022 03 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758235

ABSTRACT

Therapeutic mRNAs and vaccines are being developed for a broad range of human diseases, including COVID-19. However, their optimization is hindered by mRNA instability and inefficient protein expression. Here, we describe design principles that overcome these barriers. We develop an RNA sequencing-based platform called PERSIST-seq to systematically delineate in-cell mRNA stability, ribosome load, as well as in-solution stability of a library of diverse mRNAs. We find that, surprisingly, in-cell stability is a greater driver of protein output than high ribosome load. We further introduce a method called In-line-seq, applied to thousands of diverse RNAs, that reveals sequence and structure-based rules for mitigating hydrolytic degradation. Our findings show that highly structured "superfolder" mRNAs can be designed to improve both stability and expression with further enhancement through pseudouridine nucleoside modification. Together, our study demonstrates simultaneous improvement of mRNA stability and protein expression and provides a computational-experimental platform for the enhancement of mRNA medicines.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , RNA , COVID-19/therapy , Humans , Pseudouridine/metabolism , RNA Stability/genetics , RNA, Messenger/metabolism
2.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295278

ABSTRACT

SUMMARY Therapeutic mRNAs and vaccines are being developed for a broad range of human diseases, including COVID-19. However, their optimization is hindered by mRNA instability and inefficient protein expression. Here, we describe design principles that overcome these barriers. We develop a new RNA sequencing-based platform called PERSIST-seq to systematically delineate in-cell mRNA stability, ribosome load, as well as in-solution stability of a library of diverse mRNAs. We find that, surprisingly, in-cell stability is a greater driver of protein output than high ribosome load. We further introduce a method called In-line-seq, applied to thousands of diverse RNAs, that reveals sequence and structure-based rules for mitigating hydrolytic degradation. Our findings show that “superfolder” mRNAs can be designed to improve both stability and expression that are further enhanced through pseudouridine nucleoside modification. Together, our study demonstrates simultaneous improvement of mRNA stability and protein expression and provides a computational-experimental platform for the enhancement of mRNA medicines.

3.
NAR Genom Bioinform ; 3(4): lqab091, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1475822

ABSTRACT

Publishing, discussing, envisioning, modeling, designing and experimentally determining RNA three-dimensional (3D) structures involve preparation of two-dimensional (2D) drawings that depict critical functional features of the subject molecules, such as noncanonical base pairs and protein contacts. Here, we describe RiboDraw, new software for crafting these drawings. We illustrate the features of RiboDraw by applying it to several RNAs, including the Escherichia coli tRNA-Phe, the P4-P6 domain of Tetrahymena ribozyme, a -1 ribosomal frameshift stimulation element from beet western yellows virus and the 5' untranslated region of SARS-CoV-2. We show secondary structure diagrams of the 23S and 16S subunits of the E. coli ribosome that reflect noncanonical base pairs, ribosomal proteins and structural motifs, and that convey the relative positions of these critical features in 3D space. This software is a MATLAB package freely available at https://github.com/DasLab/RiboDraw.

4.
Nucleic Acids Res ; 49(18): 10604-10617, 2021 10 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1406489

ABSTRACT

RNA hydrolysis presents problems in manufacturing, long-term storage, world-wide delivery and in vivo stability of messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines and therapeutics. A largely unexplored strategy to reduce mRNA hydrolysis is to redesign RNAs to form double-stranded regions, which are protected from in-line cleavage and enzymatic degradation, while coding for the same proteins. The amount of stabilization that this strategy can deliver and the most effective algorithmic approach to achieve stabilization remain poorly understood. Here, we present simple calculations for estimating RNA stability against hydrolysis, and a model that links the average unpaired probability of an mRNA, or AUP, to its overall hydrolysis rate. To characterize the stabilization achievable through structure design, we compare AUP optimization by conventional mRNA design methods to results from more computationally sophisticated algorithms and crowdsourcing through the OpenVaccine challenge on the Eterna platform. We find that rational design on Eterna and the more sophisticated algorithms lead to constructs with low AUP, which we term 'superfolder' mRNAs. These designs exhibit a wide diversity of sequence and structure features that may be desirable for translation, biophysical size, and immunogenicity. Furthermore, their folding is robust to temperature, computer modeling method, choice of flanking untranslated regions, and changes in target protein sequence, as illustrated by rapid redesign of superfolder mRNAs for B.1.351, P.1 and B.1.1.7 variants of the prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Increases in in vitro mRNA half-life by at least two-fold appear immediately achievable.


Subject(s)
Algorithms , RNA, Double-Stranded/chemistry , RNA, Messenger/chemistry , RNA, Viral/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Base Pairing , Base Sequence , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Hydrolysis , RNA Stability , RNA, Double-Stranded/genetics , RNA, Double-Stranded/immunology , RNA, Messenger/genetics , RNA, Messenger/immunology , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Thermodynamics
5.
Nat Struct Mol Biol ; 28(9): 747-754, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1370728

ABSTRACT

Drug discovery campaigns against COVID-19 are beginning to target the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome. The highly conserved frameshift stimulation element (FSE), required for balanced expression of viral proteins, is a particularly attractive SARS-CoV-2 RNA target. Here we present a 6.9 Å resolution cryo-EM structure of the FSE (88 nucleotides, ~28 kDa), validated through an RNA nanostructure tagging method. The tertiary structure presents a topologically complex fold in which the 5' end is threaded through a ring formed inside a three-stem pseudoknot. Guided by this structure, we develop antisense oligonucleotides that impair FSE function in frameshifting assays and knock down SARS-CoV-2 virus replication in A549-ACE2 cells at 100 nM concentration.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Cryoelectron Microscopy/methods , Frameshift Mutation/genetics , Oligonucleotides, Antisense/genetics , RNA, Viral/genetics , Response Elements/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , A549 Cells , Animals , Base Sequence , COVID-19/virology , Cell Line, Tumor , Chlorocebus aethiops , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Models, Molecular , Nucleic Acid Conformation , Oligonucleotides, Antisense/pharmacology , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/ultrastructure , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/ultrastructure , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects , Virus Replication/genetics
6.
Nat Methods ; 18(5): 439, 2021 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1242026
7.
Nucleic Acids Res ; 49(6): 3092-3108, 2021 04 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1123330

ABSTRACT

The rapid spread of COVID-19 is motivating development of antivirals targeting conserved SARS-CoV-2 molecular machinery. The SARS-CoV-2 genome includes conserved RNA elements that offer potential small-molecule drug targets, but most of their 3D structures have not been experimentally characterized. Here, we provide a compilation of chemical mapping data from our and other labs, secondary structure models, and 3D model ensembles based on Rosetta's FARFAR2 algorithm for SARS-CoV-2 RNA regions including the individual stems SL1-8 in the extended 5' UTR; the reverse complement of the 5' UTR SL1-4; the frameshift stimulating element (FSE); and the extended pseudoknot, hypervariable region, and s2m of the 3' UTR. For eleven of these elements (the stems in SL1-8, reverse complement of SL1-4, FSE, s2m and 3' UTR pseudoknot), modeling convergence supports the accuracy of predicted low energy states; subsequent cryo-EM characterization of the FSE confirms modeling accuracy. To aid efforts to discover small molecule RNA binders guided by computational models, we provide a second set of similarly prepared models for RNA riboswitches that bind small molecules. Both datasets ('FARFAR2-SARS-CoV-2', https://github.com/DasLab/FARFAR2-SARS-CoV-2; and 'FARFAR2-Apo-Riboswitch', at https://github.com/DasLab/FARFAR2-Apo-Riboswitch') include up to 400 models for each RNA element, which may facilitate drug discovery approaches targeting dynamic ensembles of RNA molecules.


Subject(s)
Consensus , Models, Molecular , Nucleic Acid Conformation , RNA, Viral/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , 3' Untranslated Regions/genetics , 5' Untranslated Regions/genetics , Algorithms , Aptamers, Nucleotide/genetics , Base Sequence , Binding Sites , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Datasets as Topic , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical/methods , Frameshifting, Ribosomal/genetics , Genome, Viral/genetics , RNA Stability , RNA, Viral/genetics , Reproducibility of Results , Riboswitch/genetics , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry
8.
RNA ; 26(8): 937-959, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-245418

ABSTRACT

As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads, there is a growing need for a compilation of conserved RNA genome regions in the SARS-CoV-2 virus along with their structural propensities to guide development of antivirals and diagnostics. Here we present a first look at RNA sequence conservation and structural propensities in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Using sequence alignments spanning a range of betacoronaviruses, we rank genomic regions by RNA sequence conservation, identifying 79 regions of length at least 15 nt as exactly conserved over SARS-related complete genome sequences available near the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. We then confirm the conservation of the majority of these genome regions across 739 SARS-CoV-2 sequences subsequently reported from the COVID-19 outbreak, and we present a curated list of 30 "SARS-related-conserved" regions. We find that known RNA structured elements curated as Rfam families and in prior literature are enriched in these conserved genome regions, and we predict additional conserved, stable secondary structures across the viral genome. We provide 106 "SARS-CoV-2-conserved-structured" regions as potential targets for antivirals that bind to structured RNA. We further provide detailed secondary structure models for the extended 5' UTR, frameshifting stimulation element, and 3' UTR. Lastly, we predict regions of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome that have low propensity for RNA secondary structure and are conserved within SARS-CoV-2 strains. These 59 "SARS-CoV-2-conserved-unstructured" genomic regions may be most easily accessible by hybridization in primer-based diagnostic strategies.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , RNA, Viral/chemistry , RNA, Viral/genetics , Base Sequence , Betacoronavirus/classification , Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Nucleic Acid Conformation , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Alignment , Thermodynamics
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