We have previously demonstrated, in vitro, that phosphodiester and phosphorothioate antisense oligodeoxynucleotides could direct ribonuclease H to cleave non-target RNA sites and that chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester analogue structures were substantially more specific. In this report we show that such chimeric molecules can promote point mutation-specific scission of target mRNA by both Escherichia coli and human RNases H in vitro. Intact human leukaemia cells 'biochemically microinjected' with antisense effectors demonstrated efficient suppression of target mRNA expression. It was noted that the chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester structures showed single base discrimination, whereas neither the phosphodiester nor phosphorothioate compounds were as stringent. Finally, we show that the antisense effects obtained in intact cells were due to endogenous RNase H activity.
Oligonucleotide N3'-->P5'phosphoramidates are a new and promising class of antisense agents. Here we report biological properties of phosphoramidate oligonucleotides targeted against the human T cell leukemia virus type-I Tax protein, the major transcriptional transactivator of this human retrovirus. Isosequential phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides and uniformly modified and chimeric phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotides containing six central phosphodiester linkages are all quite stable in cell nuclei. The uniformly modified anti-tax phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotide does not activate nuclear RNase H, as was shown by RNase protection assay. In contrast, the chimeric phosphoramidate-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotide is an efficient activator of RNase H. The presence of one or two mismatched nucleotides in the phosphodiester portion of oligonucleotides affected this activation only negligibly. When introduced into tax-transformed fibroblasts ex vivo, only the uniformly modified anti-tax phosphoramidate oligodeoxynucleotide caused a sequence-dependent reduction in the Tax protein level. Neither the chimeric phosphoramidate nor the phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides significantly reduced tax expression under similar experimental conditions.
One of the inherent problems in the use of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides to ablate gene expression in cell cultures is that the stringency of hybridization in vivo is not subject to control and may be sub-optimal. Consequently, phosphodiester or phosphorothioate antisense effectors and non-targeted cellular RNA may form partial hybrids which are substrates for RNase H. Such processes could promote the sequence dependent inappropriate effects recently reported in the literature. We have attempted to resolve this problem by using chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides. In contrast to the extensive RNA degradation observed with all-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides, highly modified chimeric antisense effectors displayed negligible, or undetectable, cleavage at non-target sites without significantly impaired activity at the target site. We also note that all of the all-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides tested demonstrated inappropriate effects, and that such undesirable activity could vary widely between different sequences.
It is widely accepted that most cell types efficiently exclude oligonucleotides in vitro and require specific delivery systems, such as cationic lipids, to enhance uptake and subsequent antisense effects. Oligonucleotides are not readily transfected into leukaemia cell lines using cationic lipid systems and streptolysin O (SLO) is used to effect their delivery. We wished to investigate the optimal oligonucleotide composition for antisense efficacy and specificity following delivery into leukaemia cells using SLO. For this study the well characterised chronic myeloid leukaemia cell line KYO-1 was selected and oligonucleotides (20mers) were targeted to an empirically identified accessible site of c- myc mRNA. The efficiency and specificity of antisense effect was measured 4 and 24 h after SLO-mediated delivery of the oligonucleotides. C5-propyne phosphodiester and phosphorothioate compounds were found to present substantial non-specific effects at 20 microM but were inactive at 0.2 microM. Indeed, no antisense-specific effect was noted at any concentration at either time. All of the other oligonucleotides tested induced some measurable antisense effect, except 7 (chimeric, all-phosphorothioate, 2'-methoxyethoxy termini) which was essentially inactive at 20 microM. The rank efficiency order of the remaining antisense compounds was 4 = 3 >> 9 >> 10 = 8 = 5 = 6 > 11. The efficient antisense effects induced by the chimeric methylphosphonate-phosphodiester compounds were found to be highly specific. Increased phosphorothioate content in the oligonucleotide backbone correlated with reduced antisense activity (efficacy: 2'-methoxyethoxy series 9 >> 8 >> 7, 2'-methoxytriethoxy series 10 > 11). No consistent evidence was obtained for increased activity correlating with increased oligonucleotide-mRNA heteroduplex thermal stability. In conclusion, the chimeric methylphosphonate-phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotides present the most favourable characteristics of the compounds tested, for efficient and specific antisense suppression of gene expression following SLO-mediated delivery.
A chimeric methylphosphonodiester/phosphodiester 15mer oligodeoxynucleotide of randomly selected sequence was observed to rapidly induce apoptosis in MOLT-4 and Jurkat E6 T lymphocytic leukaemia cells following intracytoplasmic delivery. A series of further methylphosphonate substitutions and mutations and truncations of the oligodeoxynucleotide served to establish that the phosphodiester-linked sequence CGGTA present in the 15mer was responsible for this biological activity. End-protected CpG oligodeoxynucleotide 5mers of sequence type CGNNN exhibited a range of apoptosis-inducing potencies, with CGTTA being the most active. The latter was shown to significantly reduce the rate of RNA synthesis in MOLT-4 cells within 1 h; DNA laddering and redistribution of phosphatidylserine to the outer surface of the plasma membrane were marked by 160 min and mitochondrial transmembrane potential collapsed over roughly the same time scale. Pro-caspase 8 was reduced within 130 min and the proteolytically activated caspase 8 substrate Bid was also down by this time, implicating release of cytochrome c from mitochondria by the active 15 kDa fragment of Bid. Substantial proteolytic activation of pro-caspase 3 was relatively delayed. These findings support a mitochondrial amplification mechanism for apoptosis triggered by CpG 5mers.
The protein signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) of the JAK/STAT pathway is constitutively activated because of its phosphorylation by tyrosine kinase activity of fusion protein BCR-ABL in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cells. This study investigated the potential therapeutic effect of STAT5 decoy oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) using leukemia K562 cells as a model. Our results showed that transfection of 21-mer-long STAT5 decoy ODN into K562 cells effectively inhibited cell proliferation and induced cell apoptosis. Further, STAT5 decoy ODN downregulated STAT5 targets bcl-xL, cyclinD1, and c-myc at both mRNA and protein levels in a sequence-specific manner. Collectively, these data demonstrate the therapeutic effect of blocking the STAT5 signal pathway by cis-element decoy for cancer characterized by constitutive STAT5 activation. Thus, our study provides support for STAT5 as a potential target downstream of BCR-ABL for CML treatment and helps establish the concept of targeting STAT5 by decoy ODN as a novel therapy approach for imatinib-resistant CML.
The proto-oncogene c-myc (myc)
encodes a transcription factor (Myc) that promotes growth, proliferation
and apoptosis. Myc has been suggested to induce these effects by
induction/repression of downstream genes. Here we report
the identification of potential Myc target genes in a human B cell
line that grows and proliferates depending on conditional myc expression.
Oligonucleotide microarrays were applied to identify downstream
genes of Myc at the level of cytoplasmic mRNA. In addition, we identified potential
Myc target genes in nuclear run-on experiments by changes in their
transcription rate. The identified genes belong to gene classes
whose products are involved in amino acid/protein synthesis,
lipid metabolism, protein turnover/folding, nucleotide/DNA
synthesis, transport, nucleolus function/RNA binding, transcription
and splicing, oxidative stress and signal transduction. The identified
targets support our current view that myc acts
as a master gene for growth control and increases transcription
of a large variety of genes.
Restenosis after angioplasty is due predominantly to accumulation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). The resistance of restenosis to pharmacological treatment has prompted investigation of genes involved in VSMC proliferation. We have examined the effect on VSMC proliferation of blocking expression of the c-myc proto-oncogene with antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, both in vitro and in a rat carotid artery injury model of angioplasty restenosis. Antisense c-myc oligodeoxynucleotides reduced average cell levels of c-myc mRNA and protein by 50-55% and inhibited proliferation of VSMCs when mitogenically stimulated from quiescence or when proliferating logarithmically (IC50 = 10 micrograms/ml). Corresponding sense c-myc, two-base-pair mismatch antisense c-myc, antisense alpha-actin or glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase oligodeoxynucleotides did not suppress c-myc expression or inhibit VSMC proliferation. Antisense c-myc inhibition was relieved by overexpression of an exogenous c-myc gene. After balloon catheter injury, peak c-myc mRNA expression occurred at 2 h. Antisense c-myc applied in a pluronic gel to the arterial adventitia reduced peak c-myc expression by 75% and significantly reduced neointimal formation at 14 d, compared with sense c-myc and gel application alone. We conclude that c-myc expression is required for VSMC proliferation in vitro and in the vessel wall. C-myc is a therefore a potential target for adjunctive therapy to reduce angioplasty restenosis.
The c-myc protooncogene plays an important role in the abnormal growth pattern of melanoma cells. In an attempt to inhibit c-Myc expression and the growth of an established murine melanoma cell line, we targeted homopurine sequences within the mouse myc mRNA with modified antisense oligonucleotides (AS ODNs). Psoralen was conjugated to the 5′-end of these clamp-forming oligonucleotides (clamp ODNs). Gel mobility shift analysis demonstrated a sequence-specific interaction between the active clamp ODNs (Myc-E2C and Myc-E3C) and the 1.4 kb c-myc mRNA, but no interaction with the control clamp ODN (SCR**). This association was further confirmed by thermal denaturation studies. In vitro translation assays demonstrated that both Myc-E2C and Myc-E3C at 5 µM inhibited c-Myc expression >99% after UV activation at 366 nm. Immunostaining of B16-F0 cells with a c-Myc monoclonal antibody revealed a significant reduction in c-Myc after clamp ODN treatment compared with the untreated or SCR** control-treated cells. This result was corroborated by western blot analysis. Utilizing the MTT assay to determine the effects of ODN-mediated c-Myc reduction on B16-F0 growth, we observed 60 and 64% reductions in growth after treatment with 5 µM Myc-E3C and Myc-E2C, respectively. We attribute the enhanced effectiveness of the clamp ODNs to psoralen activation. Our preliminary data suggest that inhibiting c-Myc overexpression results in a significant reduction in abnormal proliferation of B16-F0 melanoma cells and that the increased efficiency of clamp ODNs may provide an important advantage for their use in antisense therapies.
Phosphodiester and phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides (18 mers) were constructed antisense to sequences of the recently cloned murine and human IL-1 receptors. Murine antisense oligonucleotides inhibited IL-1-stimulated PGE2 synthesis by murine fibroblasts in culture in a time (days) and concentration-dependent (3 microM-30 microM) fashion. Murine sense oligonucleotide and an oligonucleotide antisense to human IL-1 receptor were without effect. Moreover, murine antisense oligonucleotides did not affect tumor necrosis factor- or bradykinin-stimulated PGE2 synthesis by murine fibroblasts. Similarly, antisense oligonucleotides to the human, but not the murine, IL-1 receptor inhibited IL-1-stimulated PGE2 synthesis by cultured human fibroblasts. The attenuation of the cellular response to IL-1 caused by the antisense oligonucleotides correlated with a loss in cell surface receptors for IL-1, without any change in the number of bradykinin receptors on these cells. When antisense oligonucleotides were encapsulated in liposomes, they blocked completely the appearance of newly synthesized IL-1 receptors and IL-1-stimulated PGE2 synthesis. In mice, subcutaneous injection with an oligonucleotide antisense to the murine IL-1 receptor markedly inhibited the infiltration of neutrophils in response to subsequent injection of IL-1. These data suggest that antisense oligodeoxynucleotides may share a role in the design of antiinflammatory therapeutics.
We have studied factors which may effect the intracellular availability of oligonucleotides to achieve antisense activity. 15-20 mer unmodified, phosphorothioate modified and liposomally encapsulated oligodeoxynucleotides have been tested in leukemia MOLT-3 cells. Phosphorothioate analogs penetrated and accumulated intact in cells in contrast to unmodified oligomers, which showed a high instability in cell culture medium. A slow decrease of intracellular concentration of undegraded phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides was observed after cell treatment and could be predominantly explained by a significant efflux transport. Using laser-assisted confocal microscopy we have observed that fluorescein 5-end-labeled phosphorothioate derivatives predominantly distributed in intracytoplasmic endocytic vesicles following cell treatment. The end-capped version of phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides exhibited greater cellular uptake than fully modified analogues while exhibiting similar biological stability. Liposome encapsulation made possible oligomer protection in serum-containing medium and substantially improved cellular accumulation. Furthermore, the efflux rate of oligomer initially introduced within liposomes is 2-fold lower than that observed in cells which have been incubated with free oligonucleotides. Liposomal preparations of oligodeoxynucleotides facilitate release from endocytic vesicles, and thus, cytoplasmic and nuclear localization are observed following cell treatment. Furthermore, intracellular distribution studies demonstrate that intracellular transport of unmodified oligomers is effectively achieved using the liposomal carrier.
Ribonuclease H (RNase H) which recognizes and cleaves the RNA strand of mismatched RNA-DNA heteroduplexes can induce non-specific effects of antisense oligonucleotides. In a previous paper [Larrouy et al. (1992), Gene, 121, 189-194], we demonstrated that ODN1, a phosphodiester 15mer targeted to the AUG initiation region of alpha-globin mRNA, inhibited non-specifically beta-globin synthesis in wheat germ extract due to RNase H-mediated cleavage of beta-globin mRNA. Specificity was restored by using MP-ODN2, a methylphosphonate-phosphodiester sandwich analogue of ODN1, which limited RNase H activity on non-perfect hybrids. We report here that 2'-O-alkyl RNA-phosphodiester DNA sandwich analogues of ODN1, with the same phosphodiester window as MP-ODN2, are non-specific inhibitors of globin synthesis in wheat germ extract, whatever the substituent (methyl, allyl or butyl) on the 2'-OH. These sandwich oligomers induced the cleavage of non-target beta-globin RNA sites, similarly to the unmodified parent oligomer ODN1. This is likely due to the increased affinity of 2'-O-alkyl-ODN2 chimeric oligomers for both fully and partly complementary RNA, compared to MP-ODN2. In contrast, the fully modified 2'-O-methyl analogue of ODN1 was a very effective and highly specific antisense sequence. This was ascribed to its inability (i) to induce RNA cleavage by RNase H and (ii) to physically prevent the elongation of the polypeptide chain.
Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides targeted to Ha-ras mRNA have been designed to discriminate between the codon 12-mutated oncogene and the normal proto-oncogene. An in vitro assay using two different sources of RNase H (rabbit reticulocyte lysates and nuclear extract from HeLa cells) was used to characterize oligonucleotide binding to normal and mutated Ha-ras mRNA. Short oligonucleotides (12- or 13mers) centered on the mutation had a very high discriminatory efficiency. Longer oligonucleotides (16mers) did not discriminate efficiently between the mutated and the normal mRNA. We have tested the efficacy of dodecanucleotides to induce RNase H cleavage of the full-length mRNA, moving the target sequence from the loop to the stem region which is formed in the vicinity of mutated codon 12. The most selective oligonucleotides were centered on the mutation which is located near the junction between the loop and stem regions even though they were less efficient at inducing RNase H cleavage than those targeted to the loop region. The 12mer antisense oligonucleotide with the highest discriminatory power was selected for cell culture studies. This oligonucleotide inhibited the proliferation of a human cell line which had been transformed with the mutated Ha-ras gene (HBL100ras1) but had no effect on the parental cell line which was transfected with the vector DNA (HBL 100neo) and expressed only the normal Ha-ras gene. Growth inhibition of HBL100ras1 cells was associated with specific ablation of targeted Ha-ras mRNA as shown by RT-PCR. These results show that 'in vitro' evaluation using an RNase H assay allowed us to select an antisense oligonucleotide which elicited a selectivity towards point-mutated Ha-ras mRNA when added at 10 microM concentration to the culture medium of cells expressing wild type and mutated Ha-ras mRNA.
The c-Myc transcription factor regulates a wide set of genes involved in processes such as proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Therefore, altered expression of Myc leads to deregulation of a large number of target genes and, as a consequence, to tumorigenesis. For understanding Myc-induced transformation, identification of these target genes is essential. In this study, we searched for Myc target genes involved in lymphomagenesis using different mouse T and B cell lymphoma cell lines transformed by a conditional Myc-allele. Target genes obtained by microarray experiments were further subjected to a kinetic analysis of mRNA expression upon Myc inactivation/reactivation, bioinformatic examination of Myc binding sites and chromatin immunoprecipitation. This approach allowed us to define targets whose activation is a direct consequence of Myc binding. Among the 38 novel Myc targets, we identified several genes implicated in the tumor development. These genes are not only relevant for mouse lymphomas because we observed their upregulation in human lymphomas as well. Our findings further the understanding of Myc-induced lymphomagenesis and help toward developing more efficient antitumor strategies.
Transformation of hematopoietic cells by the p210bcr/abl tyrosine kinase appears to require the expression of a functional MYC protein, suggesting that simultaneous targeting of BCR-ABL and c-myc might be a rational strategy for attempting treatment of Phil-adelphia leukemia. To test this hypothesis, severe combined immunodeficiency mice injected with Philadelphia leukemic cells were treated systemically with equal doses of bcr-abl or c-myc antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) or with both ODNs in combination. Compared with the mice treated with individual agents, the disease process was much slower in the group treated with both ODNs, as revealed by flow cytometry, clonogenic assay, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis to detect leukemic cells in mouse tissue cell suspensions, and by enumeration of liver metastases. The retardation of the disease process was positively correlated with a markedly increased survival of leukemic mice treated with both ODNs. These data demonstrate the therapeutic potential of targeting multiple cooperating oncogenes.
Several groups have reported the use of antisense oligonucleotides to inhibit c-myc gene expression and study its biological role. However high concentrations of free oligonucleotides were generally needed. To lower their concentration and stabilize the antisense effect against c-myc, oligonucleotides were covalently linked to poly(L-lysine) and administered in ternary complexes formed with heparin (100 micrograms/ml). A sequence specific growth inhibition was observed at concentrations lower than 1 microM, while oligonucleotide-poly(L-lysine) conjugates alone were inefficient. Similar results occurred with other polyanionic compounds. Inhibition of proliferation was correlated to a reduction of c-myc protein and to a transient decrease in c-myc mRNA level. However, implication of RNase H in this process could not be demonstrated.
Here we investigate the mechanism(s) involved in the c-Myc-dependent drug response of melanoma cells. By using three M14-derived c-Myc low-expressing clones, we demonstrate that alkylating agents, cisplatin and melphalan, trigger apoptosis in the c-Myc antisense transfectants, but not in the parental line. On the contrary, topoisomerase inhibitors, adriamycin and camptothecin, induce apoptosis to the same extent regardless of c-Myc expression. Because we previously demonstrated that c-Myc downregulation decreases glutathione (GSH) content, we evaluated the role of GSH in the apoptosis induced by the different drugs. In control cells treated with one of the alkylating agents or the others, GSH depletion achieved by l-buthionine-sulfoximine preincubation opens the apoptotic pathway. The apoptosis proceeded through early Bax relocalization, cytochrome c release, and concomitant caspase-9 activation, whereas reactive oxygen species production and alteration of mitochondria membrane potential were late events. That GSH was determining in the c-Myc-dependent drug-induced apoptosis was demonstrated by altering the intracellular GSH content of the c-Myc low-expressing cells up to the level of controls. Indeed, GSH ethyl ester-mediated increase of GSH abrogated apoptosis induced by cisplatin and melphalan by inhibition of Bax/cytochrome c redistribution. The relationship among c-Myc, GSH content, and the response to alkylating agent has been also evaluated in the M14 Myc overexpressing clones as well as in the melanoma JR8 c-Myc antisense transfectants. All together, these results demonstrate that GSH plays a key role in governing c-Myc-dependent drug-induced apoptosis.
c-Myc; glutathione; antineoplastic drugs; apoptosis; melanoma; ADR, adriamycin; CDDP, cisplatin; l-PAM, melphalan; CPT, camptothecin; ROS, reactive oxygen species; Δψm, mitochondrial membrane potential; DHE, dihydroethidium; GSH, reduced glutathione; BSO, l-buthionine-sulfoximine; PI, propidium iodide; PIPES, piperazine-N,N′-bis[2-ethanesulfonic acid]; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline
Tricyclo (tc)-DNA belongs to the class of conformationally constrained DNA analogs that show enhanced binding properties to DNA and RNA. We prepared tc-oligonucleotides up to 17 nt in length, and evaluated their binding efficiency and selectivity towards complementary RNA, their biological stability in serum, their RNase H inducing potential and their antisense activity in a cellular assay. Relative to RNA or 2′-O-Me-phosphorothioate (PS)-RNA, fully modified tc-oligodeoxynucleotides, 10–17 nt in length, show enhanced selectivity and enhanced thermal stability by ∼1°C/modification in binding to RNA targets. Tricyclodeoxyoligonucleotides are completely stable in heat-deactivated fetal calf serum at 37°C. Moreover, tc-DNA–RNA duplexes are not substrates for RNase H. To test for antisense effects in vivo, we used HeLa cell lines stably expressing the human β-globin gene with two different point mutations in the second intron. These mutations lead to the inclusion of an aberrant exon in β-globin mRNA. Lipofectamine-mediated delivery of a 17mer tc-oligodeoxynucleotide complementary to the 3′-cryptic splice site results in correction of aberrant splicing already at nanomolar concentrations with up to 100-fold enhanced efficiency relative to a 2′-O-Me-PS-RNA oligonucleotide of the same length and sequence. In contrast to 2′-O-Me-PS-RNA, tc-DNA shows antisense activity even in the absence of lipofectamine, albeit only at much higher oligonucleotide concentrations.
Treatment of the WEHI-2131 or CH31 B cell lymphomas with anti-mu or transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta leads to growth inhibition and subsequent cell death via apoptosis. Since anti-mu stimulates a transient increase in c-myc and c-fos transcription in these lymphomas, we examined the role of these proteins in growth regulation using antisense oligonucleotides. Herein, we demonstrate that antisense oligonucleotides for c-myc prevent both anti-mu- and TGF-beta-mediated growth inhibition in the CH31 and WEHI-231 B cell lymphomas, whereas antisense c-fos has no effect. Furthermore, antisense c-myc promotes the appearance of phosphorylated retinoblastoma protein in the presence of anti-mu and prevents the progression to apoptosis as measured by propidium iodide staining. Northern and Western analyses show that c- myc message and the levels of multiple myc proteins were maintained in the presence of antisense c-myc, results indicating that myc species are critical for the continuation of proliferation and the prevention of apoptosis. These data implicate c-myc in the negative signaling pathway of both TGF-beta and anti-mu.
We have studied the translation of rabbit globin mRNA in cell free systems (reticulocyte lysate and wheat germ extract) and in microinjected Xenopus oocytes in the presence of anti-sense oligodeoxynucleotides. Results obtained with the unmodified all-oxygen compounds were compared with those obtained when phosphorothioate or alpha-DNA was used. In the wheat germ system a 17-mer sequence targeted to the coding region of beta-globin mRNA was specifically inhibitory when either the unmodified phosphodiester oligonucleotide or its phosphorothioate analogue were used. In contrast no effect was observed with the alpha-oligomer. These results were ascribed to the fact that phosphorothioate oligomers elicit an RNase-H activity comparable to the all-oxygen congeners, while alpha-DNA/mRNA hybrids were a poor substrate. Microinjected Xenopus oocytes followed a similar pattern. The phosphorothioate oligomer was more efficient to prevent translation than the unmodified 17-mer. Inhibition of beta-globin synthesis was observed in the nanomolar concentration range. This result can be ascribed to the nuclease resistance of phosphorothioates as compared to natural phosphodiester linkages, alpha-oligomers were devoid of any inhibitory effect up to 30 microM. Phosphorothioate oligodeoxyribonucleotides were shown to be non-specific inhibitors of protein translation, at concentrations in the micromolar range, in both cell-free systems and oocytes. Non-specific inhibition of translation was dependent on the length of the phosphorothioate oligomer. These non-specific effects were not observed with the unmodified or the alpha-oligonucleotides.
Phosphorothioate-modified antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ASOs) are used to suppress gene expression by inducing RNase H-mediated cleavage with subsequent degradation of the target mRNA. However, previous observations suggest that ASO/RNase H can also result in the generation of stable mRNA cleavage fragments and expression of truncated proteins. Here, we addressed the underlying translational mechanisms in more detail using hepadnavirus-transfected hepatoma cells as a model system of antisense therapy. Generation of stable mRNA cleavage fragments was restricted to the ASO/RNase H pathway and not observed upon cotransfection of isosequential small interfering RNA or RNase H-incompetent oligonucleotides. Furthermore, direct evidence for translation of mRNA fragments was established by polysome analysis. Polysome-associated RNA contained cleavage fragments devoid of a 5′ cap structure indicating that translation was, at least in part, cap-independent. Further analysis of the uncapped cleavage fragments revealed that their 5′ terminus and initiation codon were only separated by a few nucleotides suggesting a 5′ end-dependent mode of translation, whereas internal initiation could be ruled out. However, the efficiency of translation was moderate compared to uncleaved mRNA and amounted to 13–24% depending on the ASO used. These findings provide a rationale for understanding the translation of mRNA fragments generated by ASO/RNase H mechanistically.
Expression of MYC is deregulated in a wide range of human cancers, and is often associated with aggressive disease and poorly differentiated tumor cells. Identification of compounds with selectivity for cells overexpressing MYC would hence be beneficial for the treatment of these tumors. For this purpose we used cell lines with conditional MYCN or c-MYC expression, to screen a library of 80 conventional cytotoxic compounds for their ability to reduce tumor cell viability and/or growth in a MYC dependent way. We found that 25% of the studied compounds induced apoptosis and/or inhibited proliferation in a MYC-specific manner. The activities of the majority of these were enhanced both by c-MYC or MYCN over-expression. Interestingly, these compounds were acting on distinct cellular targets, including microtubules (paclitaxel, podophyllotoxin, vinblastine) and topoisomerases (10-hydroxycamptothecin, camptothecin, daunorubicin, doxorubicin, etoposide) as well as DNA, RNA and protein synthesis and turnover (anisomycin, aphidicholin, gliotoxin, MG132, methotrexate, mitomycin C). Our data indicate that MYC overexpression sensitizes cells to disruption of specific pathways and that in most cases c-MYC and MYCN overexpression have similar effects on the responses to cytotoxic compounds. Treatment of the cells with topoisomerase I inhibitors led to down-regulation of MYC protein levels, while doxorubicin and the small molecule MYRA-A was found to disrupt MYC-Max interaction. We conclude that the MYC pathway is only targeted by a subset of conventional cytotoxic drugs currently used in the clinic. Elucidating the mechanisms underlying their specificity towards MYC may be of importance for optimizing treatment of tumors with MYC deregulation. Our data also underscores that MYC is an attractive target for novel therapies and that cellular screenings of chemical libraries can be a powerful tool for identifying compounds with a desired biological activity.
Phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides complementary to the p65 (Rel A) subunit of the NF-kappaB nuclear transcriptional regulatory factor have been suggested to be sequence specific blockers of cellular adhesion. We studied the effects of Rel A antisense, Rel A sense and other phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides on cellular adhesion and found that blockade of adhesion was predominately non-sequence specific. Phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides bind to the extracellular matrix (ECM) of NIH 3T3 cells, and to the ECM elements laminin and fibronectin. By use of a gel mobility shift assay, the association of the A subunit of laminin with a probe 12mer phosphodiester oligodeoxynucleotide could be demonstrated. This interaction was described by a single-site binding equation (K d = 14 microM). Human Rel A antisense and sense oligodeoxynucleotides, and two synthetic persulfated heparin analogs were excellent competitors of the binding of the probe oligodeoxynucleotide to laminin. Taken together, these data indicate that oligodeoxynucleotide binding occurred at or near the heparin-binding site. Competition for 5' 32p- SdT18 (an 18mer phosphorothioate homopolymer of thymidine) binding to fibronectin with the discrete heparin analogs, as well as with SdC28, was also observed. Phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides (Rel A antisense >> Rel A sense) inhibited the binding of laminin to bovine brain sulfatide, but not to its cell surface receptors on MCF-7 cells. By flow cytometric analysis we have also shown, in contrast to what was observed with laminin, that phosphorothioates a non-specifically block the specific binding of fluoresceinated fibronectin to its cell surface receptors on phorbol-12,13-myristate acetate treated Jurkat cells. Blockade of specific binding occurred in the oligodeoxynucleotide treated cells in the presence or absence of oligomer in the media.
The SR protein splicing factor SRSF1 is a potent proto-oncogene that is frequently upregulated in cancer. Here we show that SRSF1 is a direct target of the transcription-factor oncoprotein MYC. These two oncogenes are significantly co-expressed in lung carcinomas, and MYC knockdown downregulates SRSF1 expression in lung-cancer cell lines. MYC directly activates transcription of SRSF1 through two non-canonical E-boxes in its promoter. The resulting increase in SRSF1 protein is sufficient to modulate alternative splicing of a subset of transcripts. In particular, MYC induction leads to SRSF1-mediated alternative splicing of the signaling kinase MKNK2 and the transcription factor TEAD1. SRSF1 knockdown reduces MYC’s oncogenic activity, decreasing proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. These results suggest a mechanism for SRSF1 upregulation in tumors with elevated MYC, and identify SRSF1 as a critical MYC target that contributes to its oncogenic potential by enabling MYC to regulate the expression of specific protein isoforms through alternative splicing.
Phosphodiester and phosphorothioate oligonucleotides in alpha and beta configurations directed against the initiation codon region of the HIV-1 rev gene were evaluated for their ability to inhibit HIV-1 replication in acutely and chronically infected human CEM cells. Encapsulation in antibody-targeted liposomes (immunoliposomes) permitted intracellular delivery and distinction between oligonucleotide-mediated inhibition of viral entry and intracellular effects on viral RNA. Our results are consistent with four mechanisms of antiviral activity for these antisense oligonucleotides: (i) interference with virus-mediated cell fusion by free but not liposome-encapsulated phosphorothioate oligonucleotides of any sequence; (ii) interference with reverse transcription in a sequence non-specific manner by phosphorothioate oligonucleotides in alpha and beta configurations; (iii) interference with viral reverse transcription in a sequence-specific and RNase-H-independent manner by alpha and beta phosphodiester oligonucleotides; (iv) interference with viral mRNA in a sequence-specific and RNase-H-dependent manner by beta-phosphorothioate oligonucleotides.