2'-O-Methyl RNA/Ethylene-Bridged Nucleic Acid Chimera Antisense Oligonucleotides to Induce Dystrophin Exon 45 Skipping

Tomoko Lee, Hiroyuki Awano, Mariko Yagi, Masaaki Matsumoto, Nobuaki Watanabe, Ryoya Goda, Makoto Koizumi, Yasuhiro Takeshima, Masafumi Matsuo
Genes 2017 February 10, 8 (2)
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle-wasting disease characterized by dystrophin deficiency from mutations in the dystrophin gene. Antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-mediated exon skipping targets restoration of the dystrophin reading frame to allow production of an internally deleted dystrophin protein with functional benefit for DMD patients who have out-of-frame deletions. After accelerated US approval of eteplirsen (Exondys 51), which targets dystrophin exon 51 for skipping, efforts are now focused on targeting other exons. For improved clinical benefits, this strategy requires more studies of the delivery method and modification of nucleic acids. We studied a nucleotide with a 2'-O,4'-C-ethylene-bridged nucleic acid (ENA), which shows high nuclease resistance and high affinity for complementary RNA strands. Here, we describe the process of developing a 2'-O-methyl RNA(2'-OMeRNA)/ENA chimera AO to induce dystrophin exon 45 skipping. One 18-mer 2'-OMeRNA/ENA chimera (AO85) had the most potent activity for inducing exon 45 skipping in cultured myotubes. AO85 was administered to mdx mice without significant side effects. AO85 transfection into cultured myotubes from 13 DMD patients induced exon 45 skipping in all samples at different levels and dystrophin expression in 11 patients. These results suggest the possible efficacy of AO-mediated exon skipping changes in individual patients and highlight the 2'-OMeRNA/ENA chimera AO as a potential fundamental treatment for DMD.

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