A versatile genetic control system in mammalian cells and mice responsive to clinically licensed sodium ferulate

Dynamically adjustable gene- and cell-based therapies are recognized as next-generation medicine. However, the translation of precision therapies into clinics is limited by lack of specific switches controlled by inducers that are safe and ready for clinical use. Ferulic acid (FA) is a phytochemical with a wide range of therapeutic effects, and its salt sodium ferulate (SF) is used as an antithrombotic drug in clinics. Here, we describe an FA/SF-adjustable transcriptional switch controlled by the clinically licensed drug SF. We demonstrated that SF-responsive switches can be engineered to control CRISPR-Cas9 systems for on-command genome/epigenome engineering. In addition, we integrated FA-controlled switches into programmable biocomputers to process logic operations. We further demonstrated the dose-dependent SF-inducible transgene expression in mice by oral administration of SF tablets. Engineered switches responsive to small-molecule clinically licensed drugs to achieve adjustable transgene expression profiles provide new opportunities for dynamic interventions in gene- and cell-based precision medicine. Copyright © 2020 The Authors