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Keywords:

  • bacteriophage MS2;
  • microRNA;
  • RNA interference;
  • trans-activator of transcription;
  • virus-like particle

Recently, microRNA (miRNA)-mediated RNA interference has been developed as a useful tool in gene function analysis and gene therapy. A major obstacle in miRNA-mediated RNAi is cellular delivery, which requires an efficient and flexible delivery system. The self-assembly of the MS2 bacteriophage capsids has been used to develop virus-like particles (VLPs) for RNA and drug delivery. However, MS2 VLP-mediated miRNA delivery has not yet been reported. We therefore used an Escherichia coli expression system to produce the pre-miR 146a contained MS2 VLPs, and then conjugated these particles with HIV-1 Tat47–57 peptide. The conjugated MS2 VLPs effectively transferred the packaged pre-miR146a RNA into various cells and tissues, with 0.92–14.76-fold higher expression of miR-146a in vitro and about two-fold higher expression in vivo, and subsequently suppressed its targeting gene. These findings suggest that MS2 VLPs can be used as a novel vehicle in miRNA delivery systems, and may have applications in gene therapy.