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      Saponins enhance exon skipping of 2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate oligonucleotide in vitro and in vivo

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          Antisense oligonucleotide (ASO)-mediated exon skipping has been feasible and promising approach for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) in preclinical and clinical trials, but its therapeutic applications remain challenges due to inefficient delivery.


          We investigated a few Saponins for their potential to improve delivery performance of an antisense 2′-Omethyl phosphorothioate RNA (2′-OMePS) in muscle cells and in dystrophic mdx mice. This study was carried out by evaluating these Saponins’ toxicity, cellular uptake, transduction efficiency in vitro, and local delivery in vivo for 2′-OMePS, as well as affinity study between Saponin and 2′-OMePS.


          The results showed that these Saponins, especially Digitonin and Tomatine, enhance the delivery of 2′-OMePS with comparable efficiency to Lipofectamine 2k (LF-2k) -mediated delivery in vitro. Significant performance was further observed in mdx mice, up to 10-fold with the Digitonin as compared to 2′-OMePS alone. Cytotoxicity of the Digitonin and Glycyrrhizin was much lower than LF-2k in vitro and not clearly detected in vivo under the tested concentrations.


          This study potentiates Saponins as delivery vehicle for 2′-OMePS in vivo for treating DMD or other diseases.

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          Most cited references 34

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          The molecular basis for Duchenne versus Becker muscular dystrophy: correlation of severity with type of deletion.

          About 60% of both Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) is due to deletions of the dystrophin gene. For cases with a deletion mutation, the "reading frame" hypothesis predicts that BMD patients produce a semifunctional, internally deleted dystrophin protein, whereas DMD patients produce a severely truncated protein that would be unstable. To test the validity of this theory, we analyzed 258 independent deletions at the DMD/BMD locus. The correlation between phenotype and type of deletion mutation is in agreement with the "reading frame" theory in 92% of cases and is of diagnostic and prognostic significance. The distribution and frequency of deletions spanning the entire locus suggests that many "in-frame" deletions of the dystrophin gene are not detected because the individuals bearing them are either asymptomatic or exhibit non-DMD/non-BMD clinical features.
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            Functional amounts of dystrophin produced by skipping the mutated exon in the mdx dystrophic mouse.

            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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              Phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides: what is their origin and what is unique about them?

               F. Eckstein (2000)
              The development of nucleoside phosphorothioates is described in its historical context. Examples of the interaction of phosphorothioate groups, present either in oligodeoxynucleotides or in DNA, with nucleases are presented. The structural features responsible for the resistance of the phosphorothioates toward degradation by nucleases are discussed, as are the possible reasons for the high-affinity interaction of phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides with certain proteins.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                31 October 2018
                : 12
                : 3705-3715
                McColl-Lockwood Laboratory for Muscular Dystrophy Research, Department of Neurology, Cannon Research Center, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA, mingxing.wang@ 123456atriumhealth.org
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Mingxing Wang, McColl-Lockwood Laboratory for Muscular Dystrophy Research, Department of Neurology, Cannon Research Center, Carolinas Medical Center, 1000 Blythe Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA, Tel +1 704 355 5588, Fax +1 704 355 1679, Email mingxing.wang@ 123456atriumhealth.org
                © 2018 Wang et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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