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One-step genome editing of porcine zygotes


FuncPEP: A Database of Functional Peptides Encoded by Non-Coding RNAs


Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are essential players in many cellular processes, from normal development to oncogenic transformation. Initially, ncRNAs were defined as transcripts that lacked an open reading frame (ORF). However, multiple lines of evidence suggest that certain ncRNAs encode small peptides of less than 100 amino acids.

The sequences encoding these peptides are known as small open reading frames (smORFs), many initiating with the traditional AUG start codon but terminating with atypical stop codons, suggesting a different biogenesis.

The ncRNA-encoded peptides (ncPEPs) are gradually becoming appreciated as a new class of functional molecules that contribute to diverse cellular processes, and are deregulated in different diseases contributing to pathogenesis. As multiple publications have identified unique ncPEPs, we appreciated the need for assembling a new web resource that could gather information about these functional ncPEPs.

We developed FuncPEP, a new database of functional ncRNA encoded peptides, containing all experimentally validated and functionally characterized ncPEPs. Currently, FuncPEP includes a comprehensive annotation of 112 functional ncPEPs and specific details regarding the ncRNA transcripts that encode these peptides. We believe that FuncPEP will serve as a platform for further deciphering the biologic significance and medical use of ncPEPs.


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Programmable low-cost DNA-based platform for viral RNA detection


Detection of viruses is critical for controlling disease spread. Recent emerging viral threats, including Zika virus, Ebola virus, and SARS-CoV-2 responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) highlight the cost and difficulty in responding rapidly.


To address these challenges, we develop a platform for low-cost and rapid detection of viral RNA with DNA nanoswitches that mechanically reconfigure in response to specific viruses. Using Zika virus as a model system, we show nonenzymatic detection of viral RNA with selective and multiplexed detection between related viruses and viral strains.


For clinical-level sensitivity in biological fluids, we paired the assay with sample preparation using either RNA extraction or isothermal preamplification. Our assay requires minimal laboratory infrastructure and is adaptable to other viruses, as demonstrated by quickly developing DNA nanoswitches to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA in saliva. Further development and field implementation will improve our ability to detect emergent viral threats and ultimately limit their impact.


One-step genome editing of porcine zygotes through the electroporation of a CRISPR/Cas9 system with two guide RNAs


In the present study, we investigated whether electroporation could be used for one-step multiplex CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing, targeting IL2RG and GHR in porcine embryos. First, we evaluated and selected guide RNAs (gRNAs) by analyzing blastocyst formation rates and genome editing efficiency.

This was performed in embryos electroporated with one of three different gRNAs targeting IL2RG or one of two gRNAs targeting GHR. No significant differences in embryo development rates were found between control embryos and those subjected to electroporation, irrespective of the target gene. Two gRNAs targeting IL2RG (nos. 2 and 3) contributed to an increased biallelic mutation rate in porcine blastocysts compared with gRNA no. 1.

There were no significant differences in the mutation rates between the two gRNAs targeting GHR. In our next experiment, the mutation efficiency and the development of embryos simultaneously electroporated with gRNAs targeting IL2RG and GHR were investigated. Similar embryo development rates were observed between embryos electroporated with two gRNAs and control embryos.

When IL2RG-targeting gRNA no. 2 was used with GHR-targeting gRNAs no. 1 or no. 2, a significantly higher double biallelic mutation rate was observed than with IL2RG-targeting gRNA no. 3. In conclusion, we demonstrate the feasibility of using electroporation to transfer multiple gRNAs and Cas9 into porcine zygotes, enabling the double biallelic mutation of multiple genes with favorable embryo survival.

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