Guanine analogues enhance antisense oligonucleotide-induced exon skipping in dystrophin gene in vitro and in vivo

Yihong Hu, Bo Wu, Allen Zillmer, Peijuan Lu, Ehsan Benrashid, Mingxing Wang, Timothy Doran, Mona Shaban, Xiaohua Wu, Qi Long Lu
Molecular Therapy 2010, 18 (4): 812-8
Exon skipping has demonstrated great potential for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and other diseases. We have developed a drug-screening system using C2C12 myoblasts expressing a reporter green fluorescent phosphate (GFP), with its reading frame disrupted by the insertion of a targeted dystrophin exon. A library of 2,000 compounds (Spectrum collection; Microsource Discovery System) was screened to identify drugs capable of skipping targeted dystrophin exons or enhancing the exon-skipping effect by specific antisense oligomers. The 6-thioguanine (6TG) was effective for inducing skipping of both human dystrophin exon 50 (hDysE50) and mouse dystrophin exon 23 (mDysE23) in the cell culture systems and increased exon skipping efficiency (more than threefolds) when used in combination with phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMO) in both myoblasts and myotubes. Guanine and its analogues were unable to induce detectable skipping of exon 23 when used alone but enhanced PMO-induced exon skipping significantly (approximately two times) in the muscles of dystrophic mdx mouse in vivo. Our results demonstrate that small-molecule compounds could enhance specific exon skipping synergistically with antisense oligomers for experimental therapy to human diseases.

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