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Chimeric RNA/ethylene-bridged nucleic acids promote dystrophin expression in myocytes of duchenne muscular dystrophy by inducing skipping of the nonsense mutation-encoding exon

Agus Surono, Tran Van Khanh, Yasuhiro Takeshima, Hiroko Wada, Mariko Yagi, Miho Takagi, Makoto Koizumi, Masafumi Matsuo
Human Gene Therapy 2004, 15 (8): 749-57
15319032
Editing of dystrophin mRNA by induction of exon skipping, using antisense oligonucleotides, has been proposed as one way to generate dystrophin expression in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients. Here, antisense chimeric oligonucleotides consisting of RNA and a new modified nucleic acid are tested for activity to induce skipping of an exon containing a nonsense mutation. In a Japanese DMD case, a nonsense mutation (R1967X) due to a single nucleotide change in exon 41 of the dystrophin gene (C5899T) was identified. Oligonucleotides consisting of 2'-O-methyl RNA and a new 2'-O,4'-C-ethylene-bridged nucleic acid (ENA) were designed to bind the mutation site of exon 41, and their ability to induce exon 41 skipping in dystrophin mRNA was evaluated. Finally, among the specific oligonucleotides tested, an 18-mer RNA/ENA chimera was found to have the strongest activity, inducing exon 41 skipping in nearly 90% of dystrophin mRNA. Accordingly, nearly 90% of cultured myocytes were shown to be dystrophin positive by immunohistochemical analysis. Western blot analysis disclosed the presence of nearly normal-sized dystrophin up to 1 week after the transfection. Our results suggest that an RNA/ENA chimera can be used to express dystrophin in DMD.

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