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Tallinn, Estonia

Mutso M.,University of Tartu | Mutso M.,GeneCode Ltd. | Nikonov A.,University of Tartu | Nikonov A.,GeneCode Ltd. | And 14 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The inhibitory potency of an antisense oligonucleotide depends critically on its design and the accessibility of its target site. Here, we used an RNA interference-guided approach to select antisense oligonucleotide target sites in the coding region of the highly structured hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA genome. We modified the conventional design of an antisense oligonucleotide containing locked nucleic acid (LNA) residues at its termini (LNA/DNA gapmer) by inserting 8-oxo-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dG) residues into the central DNA region. Obtained compounds, designed with the aim to analyze the effects of 8-oxo-dG modifications on the antisense oligonucleotides, displayed a unique set of properties. Compared to conventional LNA/DNA gapmers, the melting temperatures of the duplexes formed by modified LNA/DNA gapmers and DNA or RNA targets were reduced by approximately 1.6-3.3°C per modification. Comparative transfection studies showed that small interfering RNA was the most potent HCV RNA replication inhibitor (effective concentration 50 (EC50):0.13 nM), whereas isosequential standard and modified LNA/DNA gapmers were approximately 50-fold less efficient (EC50: 5.5 and 7.1 nM, respectively). However, the presence of 8-oxo-dG residues led to a more complete suppression of HCV replication in transfected cells. These modifications did not affect the efficiency of RNase H cleavage of antisense oligonucleotide: RNA duplexes but did alter specificity, triggering the appearance of multiple cleavage products. Moreover, the incorporation of 8-oxo-dG residues increased the stability of antisense oligonucleotides of different configurations in human serum. © 2015 Mutso et al.

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