Publications by authors named "Stephen D Wilton"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Rational Design of Short Locked Nucleic Acid-Modified 2'-O-Methyl Antisense Oligonucleotides for Efficient Exon-Skipping In Vitro.

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2017 Dec 12;9:155-161. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Centre for Comparative Genomics, Murdoch University, Perth, WA 6150, Australia; Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science, Perth, WA 6009, Australia. Electronic address:

Locked nucleic acid is a prominent nucleic acid analog with unprecedented target binding affinity to cDNA and RNA oligonucleotides and shows remarkable stability against nuclease degradation. Incorporation of locked nucleic acid nucleotides into an antisense oligonucleotide (AO) sequence can reduce the length required without compromising the efficacy. In this study, we synthesized a series of systematically truncated locked nucleic acid-modified 2'-O-methyl AOs on a phosphorothioate (PS) backbone that were designed to induce skipping exon 23 from the dystrophin transcript in H-2K-tsA58 mdx mouse myotubes in vitro. The results clearly demonstrated that shorter AOs (16- to 14-mer) containing locked nucleic acid nucleotides efficiently induced dystrophin exon 23 skipping compared with the corresponding 2'-O-methyl AOs. Our remarkable findings contribute significantly to the existing knowledge about the designing of short LNA-modified oligonucleotides for exon-skipping applications, which will help reduce the cost of exon-skipping AOs and potential toxicities, particularly the 2'-OMe-based oligos, by further reducing the length of AOs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.omtn.2017.09.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5633351PMC
December 2017

Smart functional nucleic acid chimeras: enabling tissue specific RNA targeting therapy.

RNA Biol 2015 ;12(4):412-25

a Nucleic Acid Center; Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy ; University of Southern Denmark ; Odense , Denmark.

A major obstacle for effective utilization of therapeutic oligonucleotides such as siRNA, antisense, antimiRs etc. is to deliver them specifically to the target tissues. Toward this goal, nucleic acid aptamers are re-emerging as a prominent class of biomolecules capable of delivering target specific therapy and therapeutic monitoring by various molecular imaging modalities. This class of short oligonucleotide ligands with high affinity and specificity are selected from a large nucleic acid pool against a molecular target of choice. Poor cellular uptake of therapeutic oligonucleotides impedes gene-targeting efficacy in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, aptamer-oligonucleotide chimeras have shown the capacity to deliver siRNA, antimiRs, small molecule drugs etc. toward various targets and showed very promising results in various studies on different diseases models. However, to further improve the bio-stability of such chimeric conjugates, it is important to introduce chemically-modified nucleic acid analogs. In this review, we highlight the applications of nucleic acid aptamers for target specific delivery of therapeutic oligonucleotides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15476286.2015.1017234DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4615226PMC
January 2016

Antisense suppression of donor splice site mutations in the dystrophin gene transcript.

Mol Genet Genomic Med 2013 Sep 13;1(3):162-73. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Centre for Comparative Genomics, Murdoch University South St, 6150, Perth, Western Australia, Australia ; Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia Perth 6009, Western Australia, Australia.

We describe two donor splice site mutations, affecting dystrophin exons 16 and 45 that led to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), through catastrophic inactivation of the mRNA. These gene lesions unexpectedly resulted in the retention of the downstream introns, thereby increasing the length of the dystrophin mRNA by 20.2 and 36 kb, respectively. Splice-switching antisense oligomers targeted to exon 16 excised this in-frame exon and the following intron from the patient dystrophin transcript very efficiently in vitro, thereby restoring the reading frame and allowing synthesis of near-normal levels of a putatively functional dystrophin isoform. In contrast, targeting splice-switching oligomers to exon 45 in patient cells promoted only modest levels of an out-of-frame dystrophin transcript after transfection at high oligomer concentrations, whereas dual targeting of exons 44 and 45 or 45 and 46 resulted in more efficient exon skipping, with concomitant removal of intron 45. The splice site mutations reported here appear highly amenable to antisense oligomer intervention. We suggest that other splice site mutations may need to be evaluated for oligomer interventions on a case-by-case basis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mgg3.19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865583PMC
September 2013

Revertant fibers in the mdx murine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: an age- and muscle-related reappraisal.

PLoS One 2013 28;8(8):e72147. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands Western Australia, Australia ; Department of Biology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Muscles in Duchenne dystrophy patients are characterized by the absence of dystrophin, yet transverse sections show a small percentage of fibers (termed "revertant fibers") positive for dystrophin expression. This phenomenon, whose biological bases have not been fully elucidated, is present also in the murine and canine models of DMD and can confound the evaluation of therapeutic approaches. We analyzed 11 different muscles in a cohort of 40 mdx mice, the most commonly model used in pre-clinical studies, belonging to four age groups; such number of animals allowed us to perform solid ANOVA statistical analysis. We assessed the average number of dystrophin-positive fibers, both absolute and normalized for muscle size, and the correlation between their formation and the ageing process. Our results indicate that various muscles develop different numbers of revertant fibers, with different time trends; besides, they suggest that the biological mechanism(s) behind dystrophin re-expression might not be limited to the early development phases but could actually continue during adulthood. Importantly, such finding was seen also in cardiac muscle, a fact that does not fit into the current hypothesis of the clonal origin of "revertant" myonuclei from satellite cells. This work represents the largest, statistically significant analysis of revertant fibers in mdx mice so far, which can now be used as a reference point for improving the evaluation of therapeutic approaches for DMD. At the same time, it provides new clues about the formation of revertant fibers/cardiomyocytes in dystrophic skeletal and cardiac muscle.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072147PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3756063PMC
May 2014

A novel morpholino oligomer targeting ISS-N1 improves rescue of severe spinal muscular atrophy transgenic mice.

Hum Gene Ther 2013 Mar 6;24(3):331-42. Epub 2013 Mar 6.

Dubowitz Neuromuscular Centre, Institute of Child Health, University College London, United Kingdom.

In the search for the most efficacious antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) aimed at inducing SMN2 exon 7 inclusion, we systematically assessed three AOs, PMO25 (-10, -34), PMO18 (-10, -27), and PMO20 (-10, -29), complementary to the SMN2 intron 7 splicing silencer (ISS-N1). PMO25 was the most efficacious in augmenting exon 7 inclusion in vitro in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) patient fibroblasts and in vitro splicing assays. PMO25 and PMO18 were compared further in a mouse model of severe SMA. After a single intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection in neonatal mice, PMO25 increased the life span of severe SMA mice up to 30-fold, with average survival greater by 3-fold compared with PMO18 at a dose of 20 μg/g and 2-fold at 40 μg/g. Exon 7 inclusion was increased in the CNS but not in peripheral tissues. Systemic delivery of PMO25 at birth achieved a similar outcome and produced increased exon 7 inclusion both in the CNS and peripherally. Systemic administration of a 10-μg/g concentration of PMO25 conjugated to an octaguanidine dendrimer (VMO25) increased the life span only 2-fold in neonatal type I SMA mice, although it prevented tail necrosis in mild SMA mice. Higher doses and ICV injection of VMO25 were associated with toxicity. We conclude that (1) the 25-mer AO is more efficient than the 18-mer and 20-mer in modifying SMN2 splicing in vitro; (2) it is more efficient in prolonging survival in SMA mice; and (3) naked Morpholino oligomers are more efficient and safer than the Vivo-Morpholino and have potential for future SMA clinical applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/hum.2012.211DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609631PMC
March 2013

MicroRNAs regulate tumor angiogenesis modulated by endothelial progenitor cells.

Cancer Res 2013 Jan 25;73(1):341-52. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Parklands Dr, Gold Coast, Australia.

Bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) contribute to the angiogenesis-dependent growth of tumors in mice and humans. EPCs regulate the angiogenic switch via paracrine secretion of proangiogenic growth factors and by direct luminal incorporation into sprouting nascent vessels. miRNAs have emerged as key regulators of several cellular processes including angiogenesis; however, whether miRNAs contribute to bone marrow-mediated angiogenesis has remained unknown. Here, we show that genetic ablation of miRNA-processing enzyme Dicer, specifically in the bone marrow, decreased the number of circulating EPCs, resulting in angiogenesis suppression and impaired tumor growth. Furthermore, genome-wide deep sequencing of small RNAs revealed tumor EPC-intrinsic miRNAs including miR-10b and miR-196b, which have been previously identified as key regulators of HOX signaling and adult stem cell differentiation. Notably, we found that both miR-10b and miR-196b are responsive to vascular endothelial growth factor stimulation and show elevated expression in human high-grade breast tumor vasculature. Strikingly, targeting miR-10b and miR-196b led to significant defects in angiogenesis-mediated tumor growth in mice. Targeting these miRNAs may constitute a novel strategy for inhibiting tumor angiogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-0271DOI Listing
January 2013

A single administration of morpholino antisense oligomer rescues spinal muscular atrophy in mouse.

Hum Mol Genet 2012 Apr 20;21(7):1625-38. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal-recessive disorder characterized by α-motor neuron loss in the spinal cord anterior horn. SMA results from deletion or mutation of the Survival Motor Neuron 1 gene (SMN1) and retention of SMN2. A single nucleotide difference between SMN1 and SMN2 results in exclusion of exon 7 from the majority of SMN2 transcripts, leading to decreased SMN protein levels and development of SMA. A series of splice enhancers and silencers regulate incorporation of SMN2 exon 7; these splice motifs can be blocked with antisense oligomers (ASOs) to alter SMN2 transcript splicing. We have evaluated a morpholino (MO) oligomer against ISS-N1 [HSMN2Ex7D(-10,-29)], and delivered this MO to postnatal day 0 (P0) SMA pups (Smn-/-, SMN2+/+, SMNΔ7+/+) by intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection. Survival was increased markedly from 15 days to >100 days. Delayed CNS MO injection has moderate efficacy, and delayed peripheral injection has mild survival advantage, suggesting that early CNS ASO administration is essential for SMA therapy consideration. ICV treatment increased full-length SMN2 transcript as well as SMN protein in neural tissue, but only minimally in peripheral tissue. Interval analysis shows a decrease in alternative splice modification over time. We suggest that CNS increases of SMN will have a major impact on SMA, and an early increase of the SMN level results in correction of motor phenotypes. Finally, the early introduction by intrathecal delivery of MO oligomers is a potential treatment for SMA patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddr600DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298284PMC
April 2012

Long-term administration of antisense oligonucleotides into the paraspinal muscles of mdx mice reduces kyphosis.

J Appl Physiol (1985) 2008 Aug 22;105(2):662-8. Epub 2008 May 22.

Centre for Systems Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia.

The mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy has a premature stop codon preventing production of dystrophin. This results in a progressive phenotype causing centronucleation of skeletal muscle fibers, muscle weakness, and fibrosis and kyphosis. Antisense oligonucleotides alter RNA splicing to exclude the nonsense mutation, while still maintaining the open reading frame to produce a shorter, but partially functional dystrophin protein that should ameliorate the extent of pathology. The present study investigated the benefits of chronic treatment of mdx mice by once-monthly deep intramuscular injections of antisense oligonucleotides into paraspinal muscles. After 8 mo of treatment, mdx mice had reduced development of kyphosis relative to untreated mdx mice, a benefit that was retained until completion of the study at 18 mo of age (16 mo of treatment). This was accompanied by reduced centronucleation in the latissimus dorsi and intercostals muscles and reduced fibrosis in the diaphragm and latissimus dorsi. These benefits were accompanied by a significant increase in dystrophin production. In conclusion, chronic antisense oligonucleotide treatment provides clear and ongoing benefits to paralumbar skeletal muscle, with associated marked reduction in kyphosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00068.2008DOI Listing
August 2008

Morpholino oligomer-mediated exon skipping averts the onset of dystrophic pathology in the mdx mouse.

Mol Ther 2007 Sep 19;15(9):1587-92. Epub 2007 Jun 19.

Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies are allelic disorders arising from mutations in the dystrophin gene. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is characterized by an absence of functional protein, whereas Becker muscular dystrophy, commonly caused by in-frame deletions, shows synthesis of partially functional protein. Anti-sense oligonucleotides can induce specific exon removal during processing of the dystrophin primary transcript, while maintaining or restoring the reading frame, and thereby overcome protein-truncating mutations. The mdx mouse has a non-sense mutation in exon 23 of the dystrophin gene that precludes functional dystrophin production, and this model has been used in the development of treatment strategies for dystrophinopathies. A phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) has previously been shown to exclude exon 23 from the dystrophin gene transcript and induce dystrophin expression in the mdxmouse, in vivo and in vitro. In this report, a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP)-conjugated oligomer targeted to the mouse dystrophin exon 23 donor splice site was administered to mdxmice by intraperitoneal injection. We demonstrate dystrophin expression and near-normal muscle architecture in all muscles examined, except for cardiac muscle. The CPP greatly enhanced uptake of the PMO, resulting in widespread dystrophin expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.mt.6300245DOI Listing
September 2007

Redirecting splicing to address dystrophin mutations: molecular by-pass surgery.

Prog Mol Subcell Biol 2006 ;44:161-97

Experimental Molecular Medicine Group, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia.

Mutations in the dystrophin gene that prevent synthesis of a functional protein lead to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common serious childhood muscular dystrophy. The major isoform is produced in skeletal muscle and the size of the dystrophin gene and complexity of expression have posed great challenges to the development of a therapy for DMD. Considerable progress has been made in the areas of gene and cell replacement, yet it appears that any potential therapy for DMD is still some years away. Other approaches are being considered, and one that has generated substantial interest over the last few years is induced exon skipping. Antisense oligonucleotides have been used to block abnormal splice sites and force pre-mRNA processing back to the normal patterns. This approach is re-interpreted to address the more common dystrophin mutations, where normal splice sites are targeted to induce abnormal splicing, resulting in specific exon exclusion. Selected exon removal during processing of the dystrophin pre-mRNA can by-pass nonsense mutations or restore a disrupted reading frame arising from genomic deletions or duplications. Attributes of the dystrophin gene that have hampered gene replacement therapy may be regarded as positive features for induced exon skipping, which may be regarded as a form of by-pass surgery at the molecular level. In humans, antisense oligonucleotides have been more generally applied to down-regulate specific gene expression, for the treatment of acquired conditions such as malignancies and viral infections. From interesting in vitro experiments several years ago, the dystrophin exon-skipping field has progressed to the stage of planning for clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-34449-0_8DOI Listing
January 2007

Induction of revertant fibres in the mdx mouse using antisense oligonucleotides.

Genet Vaccines Ther 2006 May 24;4. Epub 2006 May 24.

Experimental Molecular Medicine Group, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Perth, 6009, Western Australia.

Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal genetic disorder caused by dystrophin gene mutations that result in premature termination of translation and the absence of functional protein. Despite the primary dystrophin gene lesion, immunostaining studies have shown that at least 50% of DMD patients, mdx mice and a canine model of DMD have rare dystrophin-positive or 'revertant' fibres. Fine epitope mapping has shown that the majority of transcripts responsible for revertant fibres exclude multiple exons, one of which includes the dystrophin mutation.

Methods: The mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy has a nonsense mutation in exon 23 of the dystrophin gene. We have shown that antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) can induce the removal of this exon, resulting in an in-frame mRNA transcript encoding a shortened but functional dystrophin protein. To emulate one exonic combination associated with revertant fibres, we target multiple exons for removal by the application of a group of AOs combined as a "cocktail".

Results: Exons 19-25 were consistently excluded from the dystrophin gene transcript using a cocktail of AOs. This corresponds to an alternatively processed gene transcript that has been sporadically detected in untreated dystrophic mouse muscle, and is presumed to give rise to a revertant dystrophin isoform. The transcript and the resultant correctly localised smaller protein were confirmed by RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis.

Conclusion: This work demonstrates the feasibility of AO cocktails to by-pass dystrophin mutation hotspots through multi-exon skipping. Multi-exon skipping could be important in expediting an exon skipping therapy to treat DMD, so that the same AO formulations may be applied to several different mutations within particular domains of the dystrophin gene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1479-0556-4-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1481566PMC
May 2006

Terminal antisense oligonucleotide modifications can enhance induced exon skipping.

Neuromuscul Disord 2005 Oct;15(9-10):622-9

Experimental Molecular Medicine Group, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Perth 6097, Western Australia.

Induction of specific exon skipping during the processing of the dystrophin gene transcript is being pursued as a potential therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Antisense oligonucleotides directed at motifs involved in pre-mRNA processing can manipulate dystrophin exon incorporation in the mature gene transcript. We have compared the exon skipping ability of oligodeoxyribonucleotides with compounds of the identical sequence incorporating 2'-O-methyl modified bases. Antisense oligonucleotides composed entirely of 2'-O-methyl modified bases on a phosphorothioate backbone were consistently more efficient at inducing exon skipping than comparable oligodeoxyribonucleotides. Chimeric antisense oligonucleotides, mixtures of unmodified and 2'-O-methyl modified bases, induced intermediate levels of exon skipping. In addition, we describe terminal modifications that may be incorporated into the 2'-O-methyl antisense oligonucleotides to further enhance efficiency of exon skipping. Our findings suggest that 2'-O-methyl antisense oligonucleotides should be considered for human clinical trials involving targeted exon skipping in dystrophin gene expression in preference to oligodeoxyribonucleotides.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2005.06.009DOI Listing
October 2005

Morpholino antisense oligonucleotide induced dystrophin exon 23 skipping in mdx mouse muscle.

Hum Mol Genet 2003 Aug;12(15):1801-11

Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia, 4th Floor, "A" Block, QE II Medical Centre, Verdun Street, Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia.

The mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy arose due to a nonsense mutation in exon 23 of the dystrophin gene. We have previously demonstrated that 2'-O-methyl phosphorothioate antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) can induce removal of exon 23 during processing of the primary transcript. This results in an in-frame mRNA transcript and subsequent expression of a slightly shorter dystrophin protein in mdx muscle. Refinement of AO design has allowed efficient exon skipping to be induced in mdx mouse muscle cultures at nanomolar concentrations. In contrast, splicing intervention by morpholino AOs has been applied to the beta-globin gene pre-mRNA in cultured cells to correct aberrant splicing when delivered in the micromolar range. The morpholino chemistry produces a neutral molecule that has exceptional biological stability but poor cellular delivery. We present data showing that exon skipping in mdx cells may be induced by morpholino AOs at nanomolar concentrations when annealed to a sense oligonucleotide or "leash", and delivered as a cationic lipoplex. We have investigated a number of leash designs and chemistries, including mixed backbone oligonucleotides, and their ability to influence delivery and efficacy of the morpholino AO. Significantly, we detected dystrophin protein synthesis and correct sarcolemmal localisation after intramuscular injection of morpholino AO : leash lipoplexes in mdx muscle in vivo. We show enhanced delivery of a morpholino AO, enabling the advantageous properties to be exploited for potentially therapeutic outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddg196DOI Listing
August 2003

Functional amounts of dystrophin produced by skipping the mutated exon in the mdx dystrophic mouse.

Nat Med 2003 Aug 6;9(8):1009-14. Epub 2003 Jul 6.

Muscle Cell Biology, MRC Clinical Science Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London, W12 0NN, UK.

As a target for gene therapy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) presents many obstacles but also an unparalleled prospect for correction by alternative splicing. The majority of mutations in the dystrophin gene occur in the region encoding the spectrin-like central rod domain, which is largely dispensable. Thus, splicing around mutations can generate a shortened but in-frame transcript, permitting translation of a partially functional dystrophin protein. We have tested this idea in vivo in the mdx dystrophic mouse (carrying a mutation in exon 23 of the dystrophin gene) by combining a potent transfection protocol with a 2-O-methylated phosphorothioated antisense oligoribonucleotide (2OMeAO) designed to promote skipping of the mutated exon*. The treated mice show persistent production of dystrophin at normal levels in large numbers of muscle fibers and show functional improvement of the treated muscle. Repeated administration enhances dystrophin expression without eliciting immune responses. Our data establishes the realistic practicality of an approach that is applicable, in principle, to a majority of cases of severe dystrophinopathy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm897DOI Listing
August 2003

Target selection for antisense oligonucleotide induced exon skipping in the dystrophin gene.

J Gene Med 2003 Jun;5(6):518-27

Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia, 6027.

Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive muscle wasting disorder characterised by the absence of the protein dystrophin. Antisense oligonucleotides have been used to re-direct dystrophin pre-mRNA processing by blocking sequences crucial to pre-mRNA splicing, thereby inducing skipping of specific exons. We wished to determine which splicing motifs are most amenable as targets for antisense oligonucleotide induction of efficient and specific skipping of selected exons.

Methods: Antisense oligonucleotides were directed at regions of dystrophin exon 19 involved in pre-mRNA splicing, including the donor and acceptor splice sites and the exon splicing enhancer (ESE). Cultured myotubes were transfected with antisense oligonucleotides at various concentrations and studies undertaken to determine both specificity and efficiency of induced exon 19 skipping.

Results: Antisense oligonucleotides as small as 12 nucleotides targeting the ESE induced consistent and specific skipping of only exon 19 in both human and normal and mdx mouse myotubes. Antisense oligonucleotides directed at the donor and acceptor splice sites also induced specific exon 19 skipping while mismatched antisense oligonucleotides could only induce skipping when delivered at higher concentrations. No other dystrophin exons were removed from the mature mRNA as a consequence of these antisense oligonucleotides treatments.

Conclusions: Antisense oligonucleotides directed at the ESE tended to be marginally more efficient than those which targeted the donor or acceptor splice sites, based on their ability to induce specific skipping at lower concentrations. The specificity of exon removal does not appear to be a function of target selection, but may reflect the combination of the splicing motifs and position of that exon in the pre-mRNA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgm.361DOI Listing
June 2003

Improved antisense oligonucleotide induced exon skipping in the mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy.

J Gene Med 2002 Nov-Dec;4(6):644-54

Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute, Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, 6907.

Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal genetic disorder caused by dystrophin gene mutations that preclude synthesis of a functional protein. One potential treatment of the disorder has utilised antisense oligoribonucleotides (AOs) to induce removal of disease-associated exons during pre-mRNA processing. Induced in-frame mRNA transcripts encode a shorter but functional dystrophin. We have investigated and improved the design of AOs capable of removing exon 23, and thus the disease-causing nonsense mutation, from mRNA in the mdx mouse model of DMD.

Methods: H-2K(b)-tsA58 mdx cultures were transfected with complexes of Lipofectin and AOs. Exon skipping was detected by RT-PCR and subsequent protein production was demonstrated by Western blotting. AOs were delivered at a range of doses in order to compare relative efficiencies.

Results: We describe effective and reproducible exon 23 skipping with several AOs, including one as small as 17 nucleotides. Furthermore, the location of a sensitive exon 23 target site has been refined, whilst minimum effective doses have been estimated in vitro. These doses are significantly lower than previously reported and were associated with the synthesis of dystrophin protein in vitro.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate the increasing feasibility of an AO-based therapy for treatment of DMD. By refining AO design we have been able to reduce the size and the effective dose of the AOs and have dramatically improved the efficiency of the technique.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgm.295DOI Listing
May 2003
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