Kinetin improves IKBKAP mRNA splicing in patients with familial dysautonomia

Felicia B Axelrod, Leonard Liebes, Gabrielle Gold-Von Simson, Sandra Mendoza, James Mull, Maire Leyne, Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann, Horacio Kaufmann, Susan A Slaugenhaupt
Pediatric Research 2011, 70 (5): 480-3
Familial dysautonomia (FD) is caused by an intronic splice mutation in the IKBKAP gene that leads to partial skipping of exon 20 and tissue-specific reduction in I-κ-B kinase complex-associated protein/elongation protein 1 (IKAP/ELP-1) expression. Kinetin (6-furfurylaminopurine) has been shown to improve splicing and increase WT IKBKAP mRNA and IKAP protein expression in FD cell lines and carriers. To determine whether oral kinetin treatment could alter mRNA splicing in FD subjects and was tolerable, we administered kinetin to eight FD individuals homozygous for the splice mutation. Subjects received 23.5 mg/Kg/d for 28 d. An increase in WT IKBKAP mRNA expression in leukocytes was noted after 8 d in six of eight individuals; after 28 d, the mean increase compared with baseline was significant (p = 0.002). We have demonstrated that kinetin is tolerable in this medically fragile population. Not only did kinetin produce the desired effect on splicing in FD patients but also that effect seems to improve with time despite lack of dose change. This is the first report of a drug that produces in vivo mRNA splicing changes in individuals with FD and supports future long-term trials to determine whether kinetin will prove therapeutic in FD patients.

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