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Optimizing RNA/ENA chimeric antisense oligonucleotides using in vitro splicing

Yasuhiro Takeshima, Mariko Yagi, Masafumi Matsuo
Methods in Molecular Biology 2012, 867: 131-41
22454059
A molecular therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) that converts dystrophin mRNA from out-of-frame to in-frame transcripts by inducing exon skipping with antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) is now approaching clinical application. To exploit the broad therapeutic applicability of exon skipping therapy, it is necessary to identify AOs that are able to induce efficient and specific exon skipping. To optimize AOs, we have established an in vitro splicing system using cultured DMD myocytes. Here, we describe the process of identifying the best AO.Cultured DMD myocytes are established from a biopsy sample and the target exon is chosen. A series of AOs are designed to cover the whole target exon sequence. As AOs, we use 15-20-mer chimeric oligonucleotides consisting of 2'-O-methyl RNA and modified nucleic acid (2'-O, 4'-C-ethylene-bridged nucleic acid). Each AO is transfected individually into cultured DMD myocytes, and the resulting mRNA is analyzed by reverse transcription-PCR. The ability of each AO to induce exon skipping is examined by comparing the amount of cDNA with and without exon skipping. If necessary, having roughly localized the target region, another set of AOs are designed and the exon skipping abilities of the new AOs are examined. Finally, one AO is determined as the best for the molecular therapy.Our simple and reliable methods using an in vitro splicing system have enabled us to identify optimized AOs against many exons of the DMD gene.

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