Oligonucleotides containing Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA) to various extents and at various positions were evaluated for antisense activity, RNase H recruitment, nuclease stability and thermal affinity. In this work, two different diastereoisomers of LNA were studied: the beta-d-LNA and the alpha-l-LNA (abbreviated as β-d-LNA and α-l-LNA). Our findings show that the best antisense activity with 16mer gapmers containing β-d-LNA (oligonucleotides containing consecutive segments of LNA and DNA with a central DNA stretch flanked by two LNA segments, LNA–DNA–LNA) is found with gap sizes between 7 and 10 nt. The optimal gap size is motif-dependent, and requires the right balance between gap size and affinity. Compared to β-d-LNA, α-l-LNA shows superior stability against a 3′-exonuclease. The design possibilities of α-l-LNA were explored for different gapmers and other designs, collectively called chimeras. The placement of α-l-LNA in the junctions or in the flanks resulted in potent antisense oligonucleotides. Moreover, different chimeras with an alternate composition of DNA, α-l-LNA and β-d-LNA were evaluated in terms of antisense activity and RNase H recruitment. Chimeras with an interrupted DNA stretch with α-l-LNA still recruit RNase H and show good levels of antisense activity, while the same design with β-d-LNA results in a drop in antisense potency. Our findings indicate that α-l-LNA is a powerful and versatile nucleotide analogue for designing potent antisense oligonucleotides.
Double-stranded oligonucleotides (ODNs) containing the consensus binding sequence of a transcription factor provide a rationally designed tool to manipulate gene expression at the transcriptional level by the decoy approach. However, modifications introduced into oligonucleotides to increase stability quite often do not guarantee that transcription factor affinity and/or specificity of recognition are retained. We have previously evaluated the use of locked nucleic acids (LNA) in the design of decoy molecules for the transcription factor κB. Oligo nucleotides containing LNA substitutions displayed high resistance to exo- and endonucleolytic degradation, with LNA–DNA mix-mers being more stable than LNA–DNA–LNA gap-mers. However, insertion of internal LNA bases resulted in a loss of affinity for the transcription factor. This latter effect apparently depended on positioning of the internal LNA substitutions. Indeed, here we demonstrate that intra- and inter-strand positioning of internal LNAs has to be carefully considered to maintain affinity and achieve high stability, respectively. Unfortun ately, our data also indicate that LNA positioning is not the only parameter affecting transcription factor binding, the interference in part being dependent on the intrinsic conformational properties of this nucleotide analog. To circumvent this problem, the successful use of an α-l-ribo- configured LNA is demonstrated, indicating LNA–DNA–α-l-LNA molecules as promising new decoy agents.
Locked nucleic acids (LNA) are novel high-affinity DNA analogs that can be used as genotype-specific drugs. The LNA oligonucleotides (LNA PO ODNs) are very stable in vitro and in vivo without the need for a phosphorothiolated backbone. In this study we tested the biological fate and the efficacy in tumor growth inhibition of antisense oligonucleotides directed against the gene of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II (POLR2A) that are completely synthesized as LNA containing diester backbones. These full LNA oligonucleotides strongly reduce POLR2A protein levels. Full LNA PO ODNs appeared to be very stable compounds when injected into the circulation of mice. Full LNA PO ODNs were continuously administered for 14 days to tumor-bearing nude mice. Tumor growth was inhibited sequence specifically at dosages from 1 mg/kg/day. LNA PO ODNs appeared to be non-toxic at dosages <5 mg/kg/day. Biodistribution studies showed the kidneys to have the highest uptake of LNA PO ODNs and urinary secretion as the major route of clearance. This report shows that LNA PO ODNs are potent genotype-specific drugs that can inhibit tumor growth in vivo.
Locked nucleic acid (LNA) is a chemically modified nucleic acid with its sugar ring locked in an RNA-like (C3′-endo) conformation. LNAs show extraordinary thermal stabilities when hybridized with DNA, RNA or LNA itself. We performed molecular dynamics simulations on five isosequential duplexes (LNA–DNA, LNA–LNA, LNA–RNA, RNA–DNA and RNA–RNA) in order to characterize their structure, dynamics and hydration. Structurally, the LNA–DNA and LNA–RNA duplexes are found to be similar to regular RNA–DNA and RNA–RNA duplexes, whereas the LNA–LNA duplex is found to have its helix partly unwound and does not resemble RNA–RNA duplex in a number of properties. Duplexes with an LNA strand have on average longer interstrand phosphate distances compared to RNA–DNA and RNA–RNA duplexes. Furthermore, intrastrand phosphate distances in LNA strands are found to be shorter than in DNA and slightly shorter than in RNA. In case of induced sugar puckering, LNA is found to tune the sugar puckers in partner DNA strand toward C3′-endo conformations more efficiently than RNA. The LNA–LNA duplex has lesser backbone flexibility compared to the RNA–RNA duplex. Finally, LNA is less hydrated compared to DNA or RNA but is found to have a well-organized water structure.
The effect of locked nucleic acid (LNA) modification position upon representative DNA polymerase and exonuclease activities has been examined for potential use in primer extension genotyping applications. For the 3′→5′ exonuclease activities of four proofreading DNA polymerases (Vent, Pfu, Klenow fragment and T7 DNA polymerase) as well as exonuclease III, an LNA at the terminal (L-1) position of a primer is found to provide partial protection against the exonucleases of the two family B polymerases only. In contrast, an LNA residue at the penultimate (L-2) position generates essentially complete nuclease resistance. The polymerase active sites of these enzymes also display a distinct preference. An L-1 LNA modification has modest effects upon poly merization, but an L-2 LNA group slows dTTP incorporation somewhat while virtually abolishing extension with ddTTP or acyTTP terminators, even with A488L Vent DNA polymerase engineered for terminator incorporation. These observations on active site preference have been utilized to demonstrate two novel assays: exonuclease-mediated single base extension (E-SBE) and proofreading allele-specific extension (PRASE). We show that a model PRASE genotyping reaction with L-2 LNA primers offers greater specificity than existing non-proofreading assays, whether or not the non-proofreading reaction employs LNA-modified primers.
The available reagents for the attachment of functional moieties to plasmid DNA are limiting. Most reagents bind plasmid DNA in a non-sequence- specific manner, with undefined stoichiometry, and affect DNA charge and delivery properties or involve chemical modifications that abolish gene expression. The design and ability of oligonucleotides (ODNs) containing locked nucleic acids (LNAs) to bind supercoiled, double-stranded plasmid DNA in a sequence-specific manner are described for the first time. The main mechanism for LNA ODNs binding plasmid DNA is demonstrated to be by strand displacement. LNA ODNs are more stably bound to plasmid DNA than similar peptide nucleic acid (PNA) ‘clamps’ for procedures such as particle-mediated DNA delivery (gene gun). It is shown that LNA ODNs remain associated with plasmid DNA after cationic lipid-mediated transfection into mammalian cells. LNA ODNs can bind to DNA in a sequence-specific manner so that binding does not interfere with plasmid conformation or gene expression. Attachment of CpG-based immune adjuvants to plasmid by ‘hybrid’ phosphorothioate–LNA ODNs induces tumour necrosis factor-α production in the macrophage cell line RAW264.7. This observation exemplifies an important new, controllable methodology for adding functionality to plasmids for gene delivery and DNA vaccination.
To take full advantage of locked nucleic acid (LNA) based molecular beacons (LNA-MBs) for a variety of applications including analysis of complex samples and intracellular monitoring, we have systematically synthesized a series of DNA/LNA chimeric MBs and studied the effect of DNA/LNA ratio in MBs on their thermodynamics, hybridization kinetics, protein binding affinity and enzymatic resistance. It was found that the LNA bases in a MB stem sequence had a significant effect on the stability of the hair-pin structure. The hybridization rates of LNA-MBs were significantly improved by lowering the DNA/LNA ratio in the probe, and most significantly, by having a shared-stem design for the LNA-MB to prevent sticky-end pairing. It was found that only MB sequences with DNA/LNA alternating bases or all LNA bases were able to resist nonspecific protein binding and DNase I digestion. Additional results showed that a sequence consisting of a DNA stretch less than three bases between LNA bases was able to block RNase H function. This study suggested that a shared-stem MB with a 4 base-pair stem and alternating DNA/LNA bases is desirable for intracellular applications as it ensures reasonable hybridization rates, reduces protein binding and resists nuclease degradation for both target and probes. These findings have implications on the design of LNA molecular probes for intracellular monitoring application, disease diagnosis and basic biological studies.
In spite of the many developments in synthetic oligonucleotide (ON) chemistry and design, invasion into double-stranded DNA (DSI) under physiological salt and pH conditions remains a challenge. In this work, we provide a new ON tool based on locked nucleic acids (LNAs), designed for strand invasion into duplex DNA (DSI). We thus report on the development of a clamp type of LNA ON—bisLNA—with capacity to bind and invade into supercoiled double-stranded DNA. The bisLNA links a triplex-forming, Hoogsteen-binding, targeting arm with a strand-invading Watson–Crick binding arm. Optimization was carried out by varying the number and location of LNA nucleotides and the length of the triplex-forming versus strand-invading arms. Single-strand regions in target duplex DNA were mapped using chemical probing. By combining design and increase in LNA content, it was possible to achieve a 100-fold increase in potency with 30% DSI at 450 nM using a bisLNA to plasmid ratio of only 21:1. Although this first conceptual report does not address the utility of bisLNA for the targeting of DNA in a chromosomal context, it shows bisLNA as a promising candidate for interfering also with cellular genes.
Oligonucleotides containing locked nucleic acid bases (LNAs) have increased affinity for complementary DNA sequences. We hypothesized that enhanced affinity might allow LNAs to recognize chromosomal DNA inside human cells and inhibit gene expression. To test this hypothesis, we synthesized antigene LNAs (agLNAs) complementary to sequences within the promoters of progesterone receptor (PR) and androgen receptor (AR). We observed inhibition of AR and PR expression by agLNAs but not by analogous oligomers containing 2'-methoxyethyl bases or noncomplementary LNAs. Inhibition was dose dependent and exhibited IC50 values of <10 nM. Efficient inhibition depended on the length of the agLNA, the location of LNA bases, the number of LNA substitutions, and the location of the target sequence within the targeted promoter. LNAs targeting sequences at or near transcription start sites yielded better inhibition than LNAs targeting transcription factor binding sites or an inverted repeat. These results demonstrate that agLNAs can recognize chromosomal target sequences and efficiently block gene expression. agLNAs could be used, for gene silencing, as cellular probes for chromosome structure, and therapeutic applications.
Locked nucleic acids (LNA; symbols of bases, +A, +C,
+G, and +T) are introduced into chemically synthesized oligonucleotides
to increase duplex stability and specificity. To understand these
effects, we have determined thermodynamic parameters of consecutive
LNA nucleotides. We present guidelines for the design of LNA oligonucleotides
and introduce free online software that predicts the stability of
any LNA duplex oligomer. Thermodynamic analysis shows that the single
strand–duplex transition is characterized by a favorable enthalpic
change and by an unfavorable loss of entropy. A single LNA modification
confines the local conformation of nucleotides, causing a smaller,
less unfavorable entropic loss when the single strand is restricted
to the rigid duplex structure. Additional LNAs adjacent to the initial
modification appear to enhance stacking and H-bonding interactions
because they increase the enthalpic contributions to duplex stabilization.
New nearest-neighbor parameters correctly forecast the positive and
negative effects of LNAs on mismatch discrimination. Specificity is
enhanced in a majority of sequences and is dependent on mismatch type
and adjacent base pairs; the largest discriminatory boost occurs for
the central +C·C mismatch within the +T+C+C sequence and the
+A·G mismatch within the +T+A+G sequence. LNAs do not affect
specificity in some sequences and even impair it for many +G·T
and +C·A mismatches. The level of mismatch discrimination decreases
the most for the central +G·T mismatch within the +G+G+C sequence
and the +C·A mismatch within the +G+C+G sequence. We hypothesize
that these discrimination changes are not unique features of LNAs
but originate from the shift of the duplex conformation from B-form
The influence of locked nucleic acid (LNA) residues on the thermodynamic properties of 2′-O-methyl RNA/RNA heteroduplexes is reported. Optical melting studies indicate that LNA incorporated into an otherwise 2′-O-methyl RNA oligonucleotide usually, but not always, enhances the stabilities of complementary duplexes formed with RNA. Several trends are apparent, including: (i) a 3′ terminal U LNA and 5′ terminal LNAs are less stabilizing than interior and other 3′ terminal LNAs; (ii) most of the stability enhancement is achieved when LNA nucleotides are separated by at least one 2′-O-methyl nucleotide; and (iii) the effects of LNA substitutions are approximately additive when the LNA nucleotides are separated by at least one 2′-O-methyl nucleotide. An equation is proposed to approximate the stabilities of complementary duplexes formed with RNA when at least one 2′-O-methyl nucleotide separates LNA nucleotides. The sequence dependence of 2′-O-methyl RNA/RNA duplexes appears to be similar to that of RNA/RNA duplexes, and preliminary nearest-neighbor free energy increments at 37°C are presented for 2′-O-methyl RNA/RNA duplexes. Internal mismatches with LNA nucleotides significantly destabilize duplexes with RNA.
Modified nucleotides are increasingly being utilized in the de novo selection of aptamers for enhancing their drug-like character and abolishing the need for time consuming trial-and-error based post-selection modifications. Locked nucleic acid (LNA) is one of the most prominent and successful nucleic acid analogues because of its remarkable properties, and widely explored as building blocks in therapeutic oligonucleotides. Evolution of LNA-modified RNA aptamers requires an efficient reverse transcription method for PCR enrichment of the selected RNA aptamer candidates. Establishing this key step is a pre-requisite for performing LNA-modified RNA aptamer selection.
In this study three different reverse transcriptases were investigated towards the enzymatic recognition of LNA nucleotides. Both incorporation as well as reading capabilities of the LNA nucleotides was investigated to fully understand the limitations of the enzymatic recognition.
We found that SuperScript® III Reverse Transcriptase is an efficient enzyme for the recognition of LNA nucleotides, making it a prime candidate to be used in de novo selection of LNA containing RNA aptamers
Locked nucleic acids (LNAs) and double-stranded small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are rather new promising antisense molecules for cell culture and in vivo applications. Here, we compare LNA–DNA–LNA gapmer oligonucleotides and siRNAs with a phosphorothioate and a chimeric 2′-O-methyl RNA–DNA gapmer with respect to their capacities to knock down the expression of the vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1). LNA–DNA–LNA gapmers with four or five LNAs on either side and a central stretch of 10 or 8 DNA monomers in the center were found to be active gapmers that inhibit gene expression. A comparative co-transfection study showed that siRNA is the most potent inhibitor of VR1–green fluorescent protein (GFP) expression. A specific inhibition was observed with an estimated IC50 of 0.06 nM. An LNA gapmer was found to be the most efficient single-stranded antisense oligonucleotide, with an IC50 of 0.4 nM being 175-fold lower than that of commonly used phosphorothioates (IC50 ∼70 nM). In contrast, the efficiency of a 2′-O-methyl-modified oligonucleotide (IC50 ∼220 nM) was 3-fold lower compared with the phosphorothioate. The high potency of siRNAs and chimeric LNA–DNA oligonucleotides make them valuable candidates for cell culture and in vivo applications targeting the VR1 mRNA.
Locked nucleic acids (LNAs) are synthetic nucleic acid analogs that bind to complementary target molecules (DNA, RNA or LNA) with very high affinity. At the same time, this binding affinity is decreased substantially when the hybrids thus formed contain even a single mismatched base pair. We have exploited these properties of LNA probes to develop a new method for single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping. In this method, very short (hexamer or heptamer) LNA probes are labeled with either rhodamine or hexachlorofluorescein (HEX), and their hybridization to target DNAs is followed by measuring the fluorescence polarization (FP) of the dyes. The formation of perfectly complementary double-stranded hybrids gives rise to significant FP increases, whereas the presence of single mismatches results in very small or no changes of this parameter. Multiplexing of the assay can be achieved by using differentially labeled wild-type and mutant specific probes in the same solution. The method is homogeneous, and because of the use of extremely short LNA probes, the generation of a universal set of genotyping reagents is possible.
Genomes are becoming heavily annotated with important features. Analysis of these features often employs oligonucleotides that hybridize at defined locations. When the defined location lies in a poor sequence context, traditional design strategies may fail. Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) can enhance oligonucleotide affinity and specificity. Though LNA has been used in many applications, formal design rules are still being defined. To further this effort we have investigated the effect of LNA on the performance of sequencing and PCR primers in AT-rich regions, where short primers yield poor sequencing reads or PCR yields. LNA was used in three positional patterns: near the 5′ end (LNA-5′), near the 3′ end (LNA-3′) and distributed throughout (LNA-Even). Quantitative measures of sequencing read length (Phred Q30 count) and real-time PCR signal (cycle threshold, CT) were characterized using two-way ANOVA. LNA-5′ increased the average Phred Q30 score by 60% and it was never observed to decrease performance. LNA-5′ generated cycle thresholds in quantitative PCR that were comparable to high-yielding conventional primers. In contrast, LNA-3′ and LNA-Even did not improve read lengths or CT. ANOVA demonstrated the statistical significance of these results and identified significant interaction between the positional design rule and primer sequence.
Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA) considerably enhance the thermodynamic stability of DNA and RNA duplexes. We report the thermodynamic stabilities of LNA-2'-O-methyl RNA/RNA duplexes designed to provide insight into the contributions of stacking and hydrogen bonding interactions to the enhanced stability. The results show that hydrogen bonding of LNA nucleotides is similar to that of 2'-O-methyl RNA nucleotides, whereas the 3'-stacking interactions are on average about 0.7 kcal/mol more favorable at 37 °C than for 2'-O-methyl or RNA nucleotides. Moreover, NMR spectra suggest helical pre-organization of the single stranded tetramer, CLAMALUM, probably due to restriction of some torsion angles. Thus enhanced stacking interactions and helical pre-organization of single stranded oligonucleotides contribute to the extraordinary stabilization of duplexes by LNA nucleotides.
The solution structure of a locked nucleic acid (LNA) quadruplex, formed by the oligomer d(TGGGT), containing only conformationally restricted LNA residues is reported. NMR and CD spectroscopy, as well as molecular dynamics and mechanic calculations, has been used to characterize the complex. The molecule adopts a parallel stranded conformation with a 4-fold rotational symmetry, showing a right-handed helicity and the guanine residues in an almost planar conformation with three well-defined G-tetrads. The thermal stability of Q-LNA has been found to be comparable with that of [r(UGGGU)]4, while a Tm increment of 20°C with respect to the corresponding DNA quadruplex structure [d(TGGGT)]4 has been observed. The structural features of the LNA quadruplex reported here may open new perspectives for the biological application of LNAs as novel versatile tools to design aptamer or catalyst oligonucleotides.
Chemically modified oligonucleotides are increasingly applied in nucleic acid based therapeutics and diagnostics. LNA (Locked Nucleic Acid) and its diastereomer α-L-LNA are two promising examples hereof that exhibit increased thermal and enzymatic stability. Herein, the synthesis, biophysical characterization and molecular modeling of N2′-functionalized 2′-amino-α-L-LNA is described. Chemoselective N2′-functionalization of protected amino alcohol 1 followed by phosphitylation afforded a structurally varied set of target phosphoramidites, which were incorporated into oligodeoxyribonucleotides. Incorporation of pyrene-functionalized building blocks such as 2′-N-(pyren-1-yl)carbonyl-2′-amino-α-L-LNA (monomer X) led to extraordinary increases in thermal affinity of up to +19.5 °C per modification against DNA targets in particular. In contrast, incorporation of building blocks with small non-aromatic N2′-functionalities such as 2′-N-acetyl-2′-amino-α-L-LNA (monomer V) had detrimental effects on thermal affinity toward DNA/RNA complements with decreases of as much as −16.5 °C per modification. Extensive thermal DNA selectivity, favorable entropic contributions upon duplex formation, hybridization-induced bathochromic shifts of pyrene absorption maxima and increases of circular dichroism signals, and molecular modeling studies suggest that pyrene functionalized 2′-amino-α-L-LNA monomers W-Y having short linkers between the bicyclic skeleton and the pyrene moiety, allow high-affinity hybridization with DNA complements and precise positioning of intercalators in nucleic acid duplexes. This rigorous positional control has been utilized for the development probes for emerging therapeutic and diagnostic applications focusing on DNA-targeting.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a serious public health risk in coastal waters. As the intensity and frequency of HABs continue to rise, new methods of detection are needed for reliable identification. Herein, we developed a high-throughput, multiplex, bead array technique for the detection of the dinoflagellates Karenia brevis and Karenia mikimotoi. The method combined the Luminex detection system with two novel technologies: locked nucleic acid–modified oligonucleotides (LNA) and Mirus Label IT® nucleic acid technology. To study the feasibility of the method, we evaluated the performance of modified and unmodified LNA probes with amplicon targets that were biotin labeled with two different strategies: direct chemical labeling (Mirus Label IT) versus enzymatic end-labeling (single biotinylated primer). The results illustrated that LNA probes hybridized to complementary single-stranded DNA with better affinity and displayed higher fluorescence intensities than unmodified oligonucleotide DNA probes. The latter effect was more pronounced when the assay was carried out at temperatures above 53°C degree. As opposed to the enzymatic 5′ terminal labeling technique, the chemical-labeling method enhanced the level of fluorescence by as much as ~83%. The detection limits of the assay, which were established with LNA probes and Mirus Label IT system, ranged from 0.05 to 46 copies of rRNA. This high-throughput method, which represents the first molecular detection strategy to integrate Luminex technology with LNA probes and Mirus Label IT, can be adapted for the detection of other HABs and is well suited for the monitoring of red tides at pre-blooming and blooming conditions.
The design of antisense oligonucleotides containing locked nucleic acids (LNA) was optimized and compared to intensively studied DNA oligonucleotides, phosphorothioates and 2′-O-methyl gapmers. In contradiction to the literature, a stretch of seven or eight DNA monomers in the center of a chimeric DNA/LNA oligonucleotide is necessary for full activation of RNase H to cleave the target RNA. For 2′-O-methyl gapmers a stretch of six DNA monomers is sufficient to recruit RNase H. Compared to the 18mer DNA the oligonucleotides containing LNA have an increased melting temperature of 1.5–4°C per LNA depending on the positions of the modified residues. 2′-O-methyl nucleotides increase the Tm by only <1°C per modification and the Tm of the phosphorothioate is reduced. The efficiency of an oligonucleotide in supporting RNase H cleavage correlates with its affinity for the target RNA, i.e. LNA > 2′-O-methyl > DNA > phosphorothioate. Three LNAs at each end of the oligonucleotide are sufficient to stabilize the oligonucleotide in human serum 10-fold compared to an unmodified oligodeoxynucleotide (from t1/2 = ∼1.5 h to t1/2 = ~15 h). These chimeric LNA/DNA oligonucleotides are more stable than isosequential phosphorothioates and 2′-O-methyl gapmers, which have half-lives of 10 and 12 h, respectively.
We describe here a new method for highly efficient detection of microRNAs by northern blot analysis using LNA (locked nucleic acid)-modified oligonucleotides. In order to exploit the improved hybridization properties of LNA with their target RNA molecules, we designed several LNA-modified oligonucleotide probes for detection of different microRNAs in animals and plants. By modifying DNA oligonucleotides with LNAs using a design, in which every third nucleotide position was substituted by LNA, we could use the probes in northern blot analysis employing standard end-labelling techniques and hybridization conditions. The sensitivity in detecting mature microRNAs by northern blots was increased by at least 10-fold compared to DNA probes, while simultaneously being highly specific, as demonstrated by the use of different single and double mismatched LNA probes. Besides being highly efficient as northern probes, the same LNA-modified oligonucleotide probes would also be useful for miRNA in situ hybridization and miRNA expression profiling by LNA oligonucleotide microarrays.
Locked nucleic acids (LNA) show remarkable affinity and specificity against native DNA targets. Effects of LNA modifications on mismatch discrimination were studied as a function of sequence context and identity of the mismatch using ultraviolet (UV) melting experiments. A triplet of LNA residues centered on the mismatch was generally found to have the largest discriminatory power. An exception was observed for G–T mismatches, where discrimination decreased when the guanine nucleotide at the mismatch site or even the flanking nucleotides were modified. Fluorescence experiments using 2-aminopurine suggest that LNA modifications enhance base stacking of perfectly matched base pairs and decrease stabilizing stacking interactions of mismatched base pairs. LNAs do not change the amount of counterions (Na+) that are released when duplexes denature. New guidelines are suggested for design of LNA probes, which significantly improve mismatch discrimination in comparison with unmodified DNA probes.
Use of antisense oligonucleotides is a versatile strategy for achieving control of gene expression. Unfortunately, the interpretation of antisense-induced phenotypes is sometimes difficult, and chemical modifications that improve the potency and specificity of antisense action would be useful. The introduction of locked nucleic acid (LNA) bases into oligonucleotides confers exceptional improvement in binding affinity, up to 10°C per substitution, making LNAs an exciting option for the optimization of antisense efficacy. Here we examine the rules governing antisense gene inhibition within cells by oligonucleotides that contain LNA bases. LNA- containing oligomers were transfected into cells using cationic lipid and accumulated in the nucleus. We tested antisense gene inhibition by LNAs and LNA–DNA chimeras complementary to the 5′-untranslated region, the region surrounding the start codon and the coding region of mRNA, and identified effective antisense agents targeted to each of these locations. Our data suggest that LNA bases can be used to develop antisense oligonucleotides and that their use is a versatile approach for efficiently inhibiting gene expression inside cells.
We show for the first time that it is possible to obtain LNA (Locked Nucleic Acid 1) like binding affinity and biological activity with carbocyclic LNA (cLNA) analogs by replacing the 2’-oxygen atom in LNA with an exocyclic methylene group. Synthesis of the methylene-cLNA nucleoside was accomplished by an intramolecular cyclization reaction between a radical at the 2’-position and a propynyl group at C-4’ position. Only methylene-cLNA modified oligonucleotides showed similar thermal stability and mismatch discrimination properties for complementary nucleic acids as LNA. In contrast, the close structurally related methyl-cLNA analogs showed diminished hybridization properties. Analysis of crystal structures of cLNA modified self-complementary DNA decamer duplexes revealed that the methylene group participates in a tight interaction with a 2’-deoxyribose residue of the 5’-terminal G of a neighboring duplex, resulting in the formation of a CH…O type hydrogen bond. This indicates that the methylene group retains a negative polarization at the edge of the minor groove in the absence of a hydrophilic 2’-substituent and provides a rationale for the superior thermal stability of this modification. In animal experiments, methylene-cLNA ASOs showed similar in vivo activity but reduced toxicity as compared to LNA ASOs. Our work highlights the interchangeable role of oxygen and unsaturated moeities in nucleic acid structure and emphasizes greater use of this bio-isostere to improve the properties of nucleic acids for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
We have determined the NMR structure of an intramolecular dsDNA:LNA triplex, where the LNA strand is composed of alternating LNA and DNA nucleotides. The LNA oligonucleotide binds to the dsDNA duplex in the major groove by formation of Hoogsteen hydrogen bonds to the purine strand of the duplex. The structure of the dsDNA duplex is changed to accommodate the LNA strand, and it adopts a geometry intermediate between A- and B-type. There is a substantial propeller twist between base-paired nucleobases. This propeller twist and a concomitant large propeller twist between the purine and LNA strands allows the pyrimidines of the LNA strand to interact with the 5′-flanking duplex pyrimidines. Altogether, the triplex has a regular global geometry as shown by a straight helix axis. This shows that even though the third strand is composed of alternating DNA and LNA monomers with different sugar puckers, it forms a seamless triplex. The thermostability of the triplex is increased by 19°C relative to the unmodified DNA triplex at acidic pH. Using NMR spectroscopy, we show that the dsDNA:LNA triplex is stable at pH 8, and that the triplex structure is identical to the structure determined at pH 5.1.