The State Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Quality Research of M.U.S.T. reported the pharmacological activity of tRNA and its fragments of medicinal plants for the first time in the world


On March 8, 2022, Prof. Chi Hong Jiang, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Quality Research at the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), with MUST as the first signatory, published the cover article "Southern Redbud tRNA fragments target TRRNAs by targeting the TRNAs of the Southern Redbud" in the journal "Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids" of the world-renowned "Cell Press", ranked in the top 10% of "Medicine - Research and Experimentation" with an impact factor of 8.886. Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids (top 10% in the field of "Medicine - Research and Experimentation", impact factor 8.886) published as a cover article "Anti-ovarian cancer effects of Southern Redbud tRNA fragments by targeting TRPA1 gene "A tRNA-derived fragment from Chinese yew suppresses ovarian cancer growth via targeting TRPA1. Molecular Therapy-Nucleic Acids, 2022 This is the first research paper in the world on the role of plant tRNAs in cancer. This is the world's first original discovery of plant tRNA and its fragments to regulate genes to treat diseases, demonstrating the comprehensive strength of MUST in the field of medicinal plant RNA research. The research results have been patented in China, Australia and the United States (CN 201811503623.5, AU 2018101287, US 11,149,271), and were signed at the "Transfer of Research Results Conference of Macau University of Science and Technology" held at MUST on July 9, 2021. The license was transferred to PCR (HK) Innovative Pharmaceuticals Limited.

Small interfering nucleic acid siRNA drugs are one of the fastest developing new biopharmaceuticals today, which can be rapidly designed based on mRNA of target genes, but cannot be designed for unknown target diseases. To this end, researchers at the SKL adopted a research strategy that is the reverse of the current siRNA drug design, and through the established RNA genomics platform, they screened tRF-T11, an RNA molecule with strong cytotoxicity against tumor cells, from southern redbud, and validated its significant anti-tumor activity in an ovarian cancer tumor-bearing mouse model. The team further found that tRF-T11 mimic formed a RISC complex with AGO2 protein, and tRF-T11 then bound to the 3' UTR region of oncogenic TRPA1 mRNA and down-regulated its expression level, thus inhibiting the proliferation of ovarian cancer. This is the first study in the world on the proliferation of ovarian cancer. This is the world's first report on the pharmacological activity of plant tRNA and its fragments, and it is the first scientific view that "plant tRNA and its fragments are pharmacologically active components that cannot be ignored". This study expands our understanding of the active ingredients of medicinal plants and provides new ideas and methods for finding active ingredients and discovering new drugs from plants. This novel strategy not only identifies pharmacologically active RNA molecules from medicinal plants, but also increases the efficiency and possibility of discovering new drug targets, and provides important guidance for the development of next-generation RNA drugs.

The corresponding author of the research paper is Chair Professor Zhihong Jiang, Director of the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, MUST, with postdoctoral researcher Kaiyue Cao and Assistant Professor Tongmeng Yan as co-first authors. The collaborators of this study are Prof. Chen Tingfeng's team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Li Chong's team at Southwest University, and Prof. Zhang Bao Xian's team at Yingkorui (HK) Innovative Medicine Co. This study was supported by the Macao Science and Technology Development Fund (Project No. 0023/2019/AKP, 015/2017/AFJ).

Link to original article: