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eToehold: an RNA-detecting control element for use in RNA therapeutics, diagnostics and cell therapies

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This animation shows an example of an eToehold that detects and signals the presence of a specific viral RNA in a human cell. After the virus has injected its RNA into a host cell, the RNA acts as a “trigger RNA” by binding to a complementary sequence within the eToehold specifically engineered for its detection. As a result, the eToehold unfolds and thereby reveals a so-called IRES sequence that can be bound by the two subunits of the protein-synthesizing ribosome, which then starts to scan the RNA sequence linked to the eToehold, while simultaneously producing a reporter protein.

Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

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