A dual-regulation inducible switch system for microRNA detection and cell type-specific gene activation

Wen Jie Shu, Kyungwoo Lee, Zhe Ma, Xiaojie Tian, Jong Seung Kim, Fu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play key roles in multiple biological processes, many of which exhibit distinct cell type-specific expression patterns. A miRNA-inducible expression system can be adapted as a signal-on reporter for detecting miRNA activity or as a cell type-specific gene activation tool. However, due to the inhibitory properties of miRNAs on gene expression, few miRNA-inducible expression systems are available, and the available systems are only transcriptional or post-transcriptional regulatory system with obvious leaky expression. Methods: To address this limitation, a miRNA-inducible expression system that can tightly control target gene expression is desirable. Here, by taking advantage of an enhanced LacI repression system and the translational repressor L7Ae, a miRNA-inducible dual transcriptional-translational switch system was designed called the miR-ON-D system. Luciferase activity assay, western blotting, CCK-8 assay and flow cytometry analysis were performed to characterize and validate this system. Results: The results demonstrated that leakage expression was strongly suppressed in the miR-ON-D system. It was also validated that the miR-ON-D system could be used to detect exogenous and endogenous miRNAs in mammalian cells. Moreover, it was shown that the miR-ON-D system could be triggered by cell type-specific miRNAs to regulate the expression of biologically relevant proteins (e.g., p21 and Bax) to achieve cell type-specific reprogramming. Conclusion: This study established a tight miRNA-inducible expression switch system for miRNA detection and cell type-specific gene activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2552-2561
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 32271512 and 32201199), Natural Science Basic Research Program of Shaanxi (No. 2022JC-56 and 2023-JC-ZD-43), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (No. 2022M712547), Science and Technology Projects in Guangzhou, China (No. 202206010049), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. xzy012021051). Schematic figures were created using BioRender.com (license number XI24ZTE9OS).

Publisher Copyright:
© The author(s).


  • Bax
  • cell type-specific
  • gene regulation
  • microRNAs
  • p21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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