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1.  Ribonuclease binase inhibits primary tumor growth and metastases via apoptosis induction in tumor cells 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(13):2120-2131.
Exogenous ribonucleases are known to inhibit tumor growth via apoptosis induction in tumor cells, allowing to consider them as promising anticancer drugs for clinical application. In this work the antitumor potential of binase was evaluated in vivo and the mechanism of cytotoxic effect of binase on tumor cells was comprehensively studied in vitro. We investigated tumoricidal activity of binase using three murine tumor models of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC), lymphosarcoma RLS40 and melanoma B-16. We show for the first time that intraperitoneal injection of binase at a dose range 0.1–5 mg/kg results in retardation of primary tumor growth up to 45% in LLC and RLS40 and inhibits metastasis up to 50% in LLC and RLS40 and up to 70% in B-16 melanoma. Binase does not exhibit overall toxic effect and displays a general systemic and immunomodulatory effects. Treatment of RLS40-bearing animals with binase together with polychemotherapy revealed that binase decreases the hepatotoxicity of polychemotherapy while maintaining its antitumor effect. It was demonstrated that the cytotoxic effect of binase is realized via the induction of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways. Activation of intrinsic apoptotic pathway is manifested by a drop of mitochondrial potential, increase in calcium concentration and inhibition of respiratory activity. Subsequent synthesis of TNF-α in the cells under the action of binase triggers extrinsic apoptotic pathway through the binding of TNF with cell-death receptors and activation of caspase 8. Thus binase is a potential anticancer therapeutics inducing apoptosis in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3737314  PMID: 23759588
RNase; cytotoxicity; apoptotic pathways; murine tumor model; tumoricidal activity
2.  Comparison of Behaviour in Different Liquids and in Cells of Gold Nanorods and Spherical Nanoparticles Modified by Linear Polyethyleneimine and Bovine Serum Albumin 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:908175.
Gold nanorods (GNRs) are considered one of the most promising forms of nanoparticles for nanobiotechnology; however, the problem of their toxicity is currently not resolved. We synthesised GNRs, modified with linear polyethyleneimine (PEI-GNRs), and examined their physicochemical and some biological properties in comparison with GNRs modified with BSA and spherical gold nanoparticles (sGNPs) modified with the same agents. The influence of the buffer, cell culture media, and serum on hydrodynamic diameter and zeta potential of all GNPs was studied. Simultaneously, the size, shape, and formation of a corona were examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). PEI-GNRs and GNPs were nontoxic for BHK-21 and HeLa cells (MTT test). Penetration of all GNPs into BHK-21, melanoma B16, and HeLa cells was examined after 30 min, 3 h, and 24 h of incubation using TEM ultrathin sections. PEI-GNRs and PEI-sGNPs demonstrated fast and active penetration into cells by caveolin-dependent and lipid raft-mediated endocytosis and accumulated in endosomes and lysosomes. BSA-modified GNPs showed prolonged flotation and a significant delay in cell penetration. The results show that the charge of initial NPs determines penetration into cells. Thus, the designed PEI-GNRs were nontoxic and stable in cell culture media and could efficiently penetrate cells.
PMCID: PMC4100455  PMID: 25093190
3.  Immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma with small double-stranded RNA 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:338.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide with limited therapeutic options. Since HCC has been shown to be immunogenic, immunotherapy is considered a promising therapeutic approach. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), depending on their structure and sequence, can trigger the innate immune system, which can potentially enhance the adaptive anticancer immune response in the tumor-bearing subjects. Immunostimulatory properties of nucleic acids can be applied to develop adjuvants for HCC treatment.
The transplantable HCC G-29 tumor in male CBA/LacSto (CBA) mice was used to study the effects of immunostimulatory RNA on tumor growth. Tumor size, metastases area in different organs of mice and mouse survival rate were analyzed. Furthermore the mouse serum IFN-α levels were measured using ELISA.
In the present study, we found that a 19-bp RNA duplex (ImmunoStimulattory RNA or isRNA) with 3-nt overhangs at the 3′-ends of specific sequence displays immunostimulatory, antitumor, and antimetastatic activities in mice bearing HCC G-29. Our results demonstrate that isRNA strongly increases the level of interferon-α (IFN-α) by up to 25-fold relative to the level in mice injected with Lipofectamine alone (Mock), and to a lesser extent increases the level of proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) (by up to 5.5-fold relative to the Mock level), in mice blood serum. We showed that isRNA reliably (P < 0.05) inhibits primary tumor growth in mice compared to the mock group. Furthermore, injections of isRNA significantly enhanced necrotic processes in the center of the primary tumor, and decreased by twofold the width of the undifferentiated peripheral zone and the number of mitotic cells in this zone. The results showed that isRNA efficiently reduces the area of metastases in the liver, kidneys, and heart of CBA/LacSto mice with HCC.
The obtained results clearly demonstrate immunostimulatory and antimetastatic properties of the isRNAs in mice with HCC. Consequently, this short double-stranded RNA can be considered as a potential adjuvant for the therapy of HCC.
PMCID: PMC4038722  PMID: 24886485
Immunostimulatory RNA; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Interferon inducer
4.  MicroRNA Drop in the Bloodstream and MicroRNA Boost in the Tumour Caused by Treatment with Ribonuclease A Leads to an Attenuation of Tumour Malignancy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83482.
Novel data showing an important role of microRNAs in mediating tumour progression opened a new field of possible molecular targets for cytotoxic ribonucleases. Recently, antitumour and antimetastatic activities of pancreatic ribonuclease A were demonstrated and here genome-wide profiles of microRNAs in the tumour and blood of mice bearing Lewis lung carcinoma after treatment with RNase A were analysed by high-throughput Sequencing by Oligonucleotide Ligation and Detection (SOLiD™) sequencing technology. Sequencing data showed that RNase A therapy resulted in the boost of 116 microRNAs in tumour tissue and a significant drop of 137 microRNAs in the bloodstream that were confirmed by qPCR. The microRNA boost in the tumour was accompanied by the overexpression of microRNA processing genes: RNASEN (Drosha), xpo5, dicer1, and eif2c2 (Ago2). Ribonuclease activity of RNase A was shown to be crucial for the activation of both microRNA synthesis and expression of the microRNA processing genes. In the tumour tissue, RNase A caused the upregulation of both oncomirs and tumour-suppressor microRNAs, including microRNAs of the let-7 family, known to negatively regulate tumour progression. Our results suggest that the alteration of microRNA signature caused by RNase A treatment leads to the attenuation of tumour malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3875445  PMID: 24386211
5.  The Toxic Effects of Polychemotherapy onto the Liver Are Accelerated by the Upregulated MDR of Lymphosarcoma 
ISRN Oncology  2012;2012:721612.
Antitumor therapy of hematological malignancies is impeded due to the high toxicity of polychemotherapy toward liver and increasing multiple drug resistance (MDR) of tumor cells under the pressure of polychemotherapy. These two problems can augment each other and significantly reduce the efficiency of antineoplastic therapy. We studied the combined effect of polychemotherapy and upregulated MDR of lymphosarcoma RLS40 onto the liver of experimental mice using two treatment schemes. Scheme 1 is artificial: the tumor was subjected to four courses of polychemotherapy while the liver of the tumor-bearing mice was exposed to only one. This was achieved by threefold tumor retransplantation taken from animals subjected to chemotherapy into intact animals. Scheme 2 displays “real-life” status of patients with MDR malignancies: both the tumor and the liver of tumor-bearing mice were subjected to three sequential courses of polychemotherapy. Our data show that the strengthening of MDR phenotype of RLS40 under polychemotherapy and toxic pressure of polychemotherapy itself has a synergistic damaging effect on the liver that is expressed in the accumulation of destructive changes in the liver tissue, the reduction of the regeneration capacity of the liver, and increasing of Pgp expression on the surface of hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC3517856  PMID: 23251817
6.  Carrier-free cellular uptake and the gene-silencing activity of the lipophilic siRNAs is strongly affected by the length of the linker between siRNA and lipophilic group 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(5):2330-2344.
The conjugation of siRNA to molecules, which can be internalized into the cell via natural transport mechanisms, can result in the enhancement of siRNA cellular uptake. Herein, the carrier-free cellular uptake of nuclease-resistant anti-MDR1 siRNA equipped with lipophilic residues (cholesterol, lithocholic acid, oleyl alcohol and litocholic acid oleylamide) attached to the 5′-end of the sense strand via oligomethylene linker of various length was investigated. A convenient combination of H-phosphonate and phosphoramidite methods was developed for the synthesis of 5′-lipophilic conjugates of siRNAs. It was found that lipophilic siRNA are able to effectively penetrate into HEK293, HepG2 and KB-8-5 cancer cells when used in a micromolar concentration range. The efficiency of the uptake is dependent upon the type of lipophilic moiety, the length of the linker between the moiety and the siRNA and cell type. Among all the conjugates tested, the cholesterol-conjugated siRNAs with linkers containing from 6 to 10 carbon atoms demonstrate the optimal uptake and gene silencing properties: the shortening of the linker reduces the efficiency of the cellular uptake of siRNA conjugates, whereas the lengthening of the linker facilitates the uptake but retards the gene silencing effect and decreases the efficiency of the silencing.
PMCID: PMC3299988  PMID: 22080508
7.  Site-Selective Artificial Ribonucleases: Oligonucleotide Conjugates Containing Multiple Imidazole Residues in the Catalytic Domain 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2011;2011:748632.
Design of site-selective artificial ribonucleases (aRNases) is one of the most challenging tasks in RNA targeting. Here, we designed and studied oligonucleotide-based aRNases containing multiple imidazole residues in the catalytic part and systematically varied structure of cleaving constructs. We demonstrated that the ribonuclease activity of the conjugates is strongly affected by the number of imidazole residues in the catalytic part, the length of a linker between the catalytic imidazole groups of the construct and the oligonucleotide, and the type of anchor group, connecting linker structure and the oligonucleotide. Molecular modeling of the most active aRNases showed that preferable orientation(s) of cleaving constructs strongly depend on the structure of the anchor group and length of the linker. The inclusion of deoxyribothymidine anchor group significantly reduced the probability of cleaving groups to locate near the cleavage site, presumably due to a stacking interaction with the neighbouring nucleotide residue. Altogether the obtained results show that dynamics factors play an important role in site-specific RNA cleavage. Remarkably high cleavage activity was displayed by the conjugates with the most flexible and extended cleaving construct, which presumably provides a better opportunity for imidazole residues to be correctly positioned in the vicinity of scissile phosphodiester bond.
PMCID: PMC3180074  PMID: 21961054
8.  Inactivation of the tick-borne encephalitis virus by RNA-cleaving compounds 
The tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is an RNA-containing enveloped virus, which poses a major threat to the well-being and health of humans. In this study, we describe an approach to the inactivation of TBEV, which involves the degradation of viral RNA by artificial ribonucleases (aRNases, small organic compounds that exhibit ribonuclease activity in vitro). We demonstrate that the incubation of TBEV with aRNases lead to the total inactivation of the virus as indicated by the plaque formation assay data, but retain the viral immunogenic properties, as shown by the ELISA data. We propose that a possible mechanism of TBEV inactivation with aRNase, which includes: i) formation of local breaks in the lipid membrane of the virus caused by aRNase, ii) penetration of aRNase into the viral capsid, iii) degradation of genomic RNA by aRNase. These data suggest that the proposed approach can be used in the production of killed-virus vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3410376  PMID: 22872801
Artificial ribonucleases; RNA-containing viruses; tick-borne encephalitis; virus inactivation
9.  The siRNA targeted to mdr1b and mdr1a mRNAs in vivo sensitizes murine lymphosarcoma to chemotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:204.
One of the main obstacles for successful cancer polychemotherapy is multiple drug resistance phenotype (MDR) acquired by tumor cells. Currently, RNA interference represents a perspective strategy to overcome MDR via silencing the genes involved in development of this deleterious phenotype (genes of ABC transporters, antiapoptotic genes, etc.).
In this study, we used the siRNAs targeted to mdr1b, mdr1a, and bcl-2 mRNAs to reverse the MDR of tumors and increase tumor sensitivity to chemotherapeutics. The therapy consisting in ex vivo or in vivo application of mdr1b/1a siRNA followed by cyclophosphamide administration was studied in the mice bearing RLS40 lymphosarcoma, displaying high resistance to a wide range of cytostatics.
Our data show that a single application of mdr1b/1a siRNA followed by treatment with conventionally used cytostatics results in more than threefold decrease in tumor size as compared with the control animals receiving only cytostatics.
In perspective, mdr1b/1a siRNA may become a well-reasoned adjuvant tool in the therapy of MDR malignancies.
PMCID: PMC2886043  PMID: 20470373
10.  Female Scent Signals Enhance the Resistance of Male Mice to Influenza 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9473.
The scent from receptive female mice functions as a signal, which stimulates male mice to search for potential mating partners. This searching behavior is coupled with infection risk due to sniffing both scent marks as well as nasal and anogenital areas of females, which harbor bacteria and viruses. Consideration of host evolution under unavoidable parasitic pressures, including helminthes, bacteria, viruses, etc., predicts adaptations that help protect hosts against the parasites associated with mating.
Methods and Findings
We propose that the perception of female signals by BALB/c male mice leads to adaptive redistribution of the immune defense directed to protection against respiratory infection risks. Our results demonstrate migration of macrophages and neutrophils to the upper airways upon exposure to female odor stimuli, which results in an increased resistance of the males to experimental influenza virus infection. This moderate leukocyte intervention had no negative effect on the aerobic performance in male mice.
Our data provide the first demonstration of the adaptive immunological response to female odor stimuli through induction of nonspecific immune responses in the upper respiratory tract.
PMCID: PMC2830430  PMID: 20208997
11.  Non-Enzymatic Template-Directed Recombination of RNAs 
RNA non-enzymatic recombination reactions are of great interest within the hypothesis of the “RNA world”, which argues that at some stage of prebiotic life development proteins were not yet engaged in biochemical reactions and RNA carried out both the information storage task and the full range of catalytic roles necessary in primitive self-replicating systems. Here we report on the study of recombination reaction occuring between two 96 nucleotides (nts) fragments of RNAs under physiological conditions and governed by a short oligodeoxyribonucleotide template, partially complementary to sequences within each of the RNAs. Analysis of recombination products shows that ligation is predominantly template-directed, and occurs within the complementary complex with the template in “butt-to-butt” manner, in 1- or 3- nts bulges or in 2–3 nts internal loops. Minor recombination products formed in the template-independent manner are detected as well.
PMCID: PMC2680647  PMID: 19468339
RNA; non-enzymatic recombination; non-enzymatic ligation; RNA bulge loops; RNA internal loops; RNA world; origin of life
12.  Enhanced RNA cleavage within bulge-loops by an artificial ribonuclease 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(4):1201-1212.
Cleavage of phosphodiester bonds by small ribonuclease mimics within different bulge-loops of RNA was investigated. Bulge-loops of different size (1–7 nt) and sequence composition were formed in a 3′ terminal fragment of influenza virus M2 RNA (96 nt) by hybridization of complementary oligodeoxynucleotides. Small bulges (up to 4 nt) were readily formed upon oligonucleotide hybridization, whereas hybridization of the RNA to the oligonucleotides designed to produce larger bulges resulted in formation of several alternative structures. A synthetic ribonuclease mimic displaying Pyr–Pu cleavage specificity cleaved CpA motifs located within bulges faster than similar motifs within the rest of the RNA. In the presence of 10 mM MgCl2, 75% of the cleavage products resulted from the attack of this motif. Thus, selective RNA cleavage at a single target phosphodiester bond was achieved by using bulge forming oligonucleotides and a small ribonuclease A mimic.
PMCID: PMC549568  PMID: 15731340
13.  Sequence-specific artificial ribonucleases. I. Bis-imidazole-containing oligonucleotide conjugates prepared using precursor-based strategy 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(13):3887-3897.
Antisense oligonucleotide conjugates, bearing constructs with two imidazole residues, were synthesized using a precursor-based technique employing post-synthetic histamine functionalization of oligonucleotides bearing methoxyoxalamido precursors at the 5′-termini. The conjugates were assessed in terms of their cleavage activities using both biochemical assays and conformational analysis by molecular modelling. The oligonucleotide part of the conjugates was complementary to the T-arm of yeast tRNAPhe (44–60 nt) and was expected to deliver imidazole groups near the fragile sequence C61-ACA-G65 of the tRNA. The conjugates showed ribonuclease activity at neutral pH and physiological temperature resulting in complete cleavage of the target RNA, mainly at the C63–A64 phosphodiester bond. For some constructs, cleavage was completed within 1–2 h under optimal conditions. Molecular modelling was used to determine the preferred orientation(s) of the cleaving group(s) in the complexes of the conjugates with RNA target. Cleaving constructs bearing two imidazole residues were found to be conformationally highly flexible, adopting no preferred specific conformation. No interactions other than complementary base pairing between the conjugates and the target were found to be the factors stabilizing the ‘active’ cleaving conformation(s).
PMCID: PMC506794  PMID: 15273275
14.  Covalently attached oligodeoxyribonucleotides induce RNase activity of a short peptide and modulate its base specificity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(6):1928-1936.
New artificial ribonucleases, conjugates of short oligodeoxyribonucleotides with peptides containing alternating arginine and leucine, were synthesized and characterized in terms of their catalytic activity and specificity of RNA cleavage. The conjugates efficiently cleave different RNAs within single-stranded regions. Depending on the sequence and length of the oligonucleotide, the conjugates display either G–X>>Pyr–A or Pyr–A>>G–X cleavage specificity. Preferential RNA cleavage at G–X phosphodiester bonds was observed for conjugate NH2-Gly-[ArgLeu]4-CCAAACA. The conjugates function as true catalysts, exhibiting reaction turnover up to 175 for 24 h. Our data show that in the conjugate the oligonucleotide plays the role of a factor which provides an ‘active‘ conformation of the peptide via intramolecular interactions, and that it is the peptide residue itself which is responsible for substrate affinity and catalysis.
PMCID: PMC390365  PMID: 15047859
15.  5′-bis-pyrenylated oligonucleotides displaying excimer fluorescence provide sensitive probes of RNA sequence and structure 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(17):3611-3620.
Oligonucleotide conjugates bearing two pyrene residues attached to 5′-phosphate through a phosphoramide bond were synthesised. Fluorescence spectra of the conjugates show a peak typical of monomer emission (λmax 382 nm) and a broad emission peak with λmax 476 nm, which indicates the excimer formation between the two pyrene residues. Conjugation of these two pyrene residues to the 5′-phosphate of oligonucleotides does not affect the stabilities of heteroduplexes formed by conjugates with the corresponding linear strands. A monomer fluorescence of the conjugates is considerably affected by the heteroduplex formation allowing the conjugates to be used as fluorescent hybridisation probes. The 5′-bis-pyrenylated oligonucleotides have been successfully used for investigation of affinity and kinetics of antisense oligonucleotides binding to the multidrug resistance gene 1 (PGY1/MDR1) mRNA. The changes of excimer fluorescence of the conjugates occurring during hybridisation depended on the structure of the binding sites: hybridisation to heavily structured parts of RNA resulted in quenching of the excimer fluorescence, while binding to RNA regions with a loose secondary structure was accompanied by an enhancement of the excimer fluorescence. Potentially, these conjugates may be considered as fluorescent probes for RNA structure investigation.
PMCID: PMC55892  PMID: 11522831
16.  Synthesis and Pro-Apoptotic Activity of Novel Glycyrrhetinic Acid Derivatives 
Chembiochem  2011;12(5):784-794.
Triterpenoids are used for medicinal purposes in many countries. Some, such as oleanolic and glycyrrhetinic acids, are known to be anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. However, the biological activities of these naturally occurring molecules against their particular targets are weak, so the synthesis of new synthetic analogues with enhanced potency is needed. By combining modifications to both the A and C rings of 18βH-glycyrrhetinic acid, the novel synthetic derivative methyl 2-cyano-3,12-dioxo-18βH-olean-9(11),1(2)-dien-30-oate was obtained. This derivative displays high antiproliferative activity in cancer cells, including a cell line with a multidrug-resistance phenotype. It causes cell death by inducing the intrinsic caspase-dependent apoptotic pathway.
PMCID: PMC3085123  PMID: 21328513
antitumor agents; apoptosis; biological activity; glycyrrhetinic acid derivatives; medicinal chemistry

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