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    A ‘STAR’ is born: Engineers devise genetic 'on' switch

    RNA-mediated gene control has been a rising star in synthetic biology. In principle, RNA regulation allows gene circuits to have many more independent control switches than traditional protein transcription factors. CRISPR has turned out to be a great system for RNA-guided gene repression, but it hasn’t been as good for activation in bacteria. Cornell scientists have created a new “on” switch to control gene expression, small transcription activating RNAs (STAR), a breakthrough that could revolutionize genetic engineering.
    STARs work by targeting terminators, which are transcribed sequences that form strong RNA stem-loops followed by long poly-U tracts. Like an Austrian cyborg assassin sent from the future, the strong hairpins terminate transcription by yanking the poly-U tracts out of the RNA polymerase. The first terminator targeted for activation was model pT181, which is naturally preceded by a complementary anti-terminator sequence.
    General Biosystems offers Gene Synthesis and Custom Gene Library design and construction services to allow you to apply synthetic biology tools to any research project.