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1.  FAPP2 Gene Downregulation Increases Tumor Cell Sensitivity to Fas-Induced Apoptosis 
The gene for phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate adaptor-2 (FAPP2) encodes a cytoplasmic lipid transferase with a plekstrin homology domain that has been implicated in vesicle maturation and transport from trans-Golgi to the plasma membrane. The introduction of ribozymes targeting the FAPP2 gene in colon carcinoma cells induced their apoptosis in the presence of Fas agonistic antibody. Furthermore, by quantitative PCR we showed that a siRNA specific to FAPP2, but not a randomized siRNA control, reduced FAPP2 gene expression in tumor cells. Transfection of FAPP2 siRNA into human tumor cells then incubated with FasL resulted in reduction of viable cell numbers. Also, FAPP2 siRNA transfected glioma and breast tumor cells showed significant increases in apoptosis upon incubation with soluble FasL, but the apoptosis did not necessarily correlate with increased Fas expression. These data demonstrate a previously unknown role for FAPP2 in conferring resistance to apoptosis and indicate that FAPP2 may be a target for cancer therapy.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.03.126
PMCID: PMC3998642  PMID: 19341712
ribozyme; astrocytomas; apoptosis; FAPP2; apoptosis; Fas ligand; siRNA; colon carcinoma; glioma; breast tumor
2.  Hepatocyte-targeted RNAi Therapeutics for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection 
Molecular Therapy  2013;21(5):973-985.
RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapeutics have the potential to treat chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in a fundamentally different manner than current therapies. Using RNAi, it is possible to knock down expression of viral RNAs including the pregenomic RNA from which the replicative intermediates are derived, thus reducing viral load, and the viral proteins that result in disease and impact the immune system's ability to eliminate the virus. We previously described the use of polymer-based Dynamic PolyConjugate (DPC) for the targeted delivery of siRNAs to hepatocytes. Here, we first show in proof-of-concept studies that simple coinjection of a hepatocyte-targeted, N-acetylgalactosamine-conjugated melittin-like peptide (NAG-MLP) with a liver-tropic cholesterol-conjugated siRNA (chol-siRNA) targeting coagulation factor VII (F7) results in efficient F7 knockdown in mice and nonhuman primates without changes in clinical chemistry or induction of cytokines. Using transient and transgenic mouse models of HBV infection, we show that a single coinjection of NAG-MLP with potent chol-siRNAs targeting conserved HBV sequences resulted in multilog repression of viral RNA, proteins, and viral DNA with long duration of effect. These results suggest that coinjection of NAG-MLP and chol-siHBVs holds great promise as a new therapeutic for patients chronically infected with HBV.
doi:10.1038/mt.2013.31
PMCID: PMC3666629  PMID: 23439496
4.  Defined Folate-PEG-siRNA Conjugates for Receptor-specific Gene Silencing 
Gene silencing mediated by small interfering RNA (siRNA) is a novel approach in the development of new cancer therapeutics. Polycations used for nucleic acid delivery still remain heterogeneous compounds, despite continuous progress in polymer synthetic technologies. Here we report the development of a structural defined folic acid polyethylene glycol (PEG) siRNA conjugate accessible via click chemistry yielding a monodisperse ligand-PEG-siRNA conjugate. The folic acid targeting ligand was synthesized by solid phase supported peptide chemistry. The conjugate was shown to be specifically internalized into folic acid receptor expressing cells. When combined with a structurally defined polycation, again synthesized with the precision of solid phase chemistry, efficient receptor specific gene silencing is achieved.
doi:10.1038/mtna.2011.10
PMCID: PMC3381594  PMID: 23344624
5.  Effective RNAi-mediated gene silencing without interruption of the endogenous microRNA pathway 
Nature  2007;449(7163):745-747.
Systemic administration of synthetic small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) effectively silences hepatocyte gene expression in rodents and primates1–3. Whether or not in vivo gene silencing by synthetic siRNA can disrupt the endogenous microRNA (miRNA) pathway remains to be addressed. Here we show that effective target-gene silencing in the mouse and hamster liver can be achieved by systemic administration of synthetic siRNA without any demonstrable effect on miRNA levels or activity. Indeed, siRNA targeting two hepatocyte-specific genes (apolipo-protein B and factor VII) that achieved efficient (~80%) silencing of messenger RNA transcripts and a third irrelevant siRNA control were administered to mice without significant changes in the levels of three hepatocyte-expressed miRNAs (miR-122, miR-16 and let-7a) or an effect on miRNA activity. Moreover, multiple administrations of an siRNA targeting the hepatocyte-expressed gene Scap in hamsters achieved long-term mRNA silencing without significant changes in miR-122 levels. This study advances the use of siRNAs as safe and effective tools to silence gene transcripts in animal studies, and supports the continued advancement of RNA interference therapeutics using synthetic siRNA.
doi:10.1038/nature06179
PMCID: PMC3019095  PMID: 17898712
6.  Modulation of thermal stability can enhance the potency of siRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(20):7320-7331.
During RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) assembly the guide (or antisense) strand has to separate from its complementary passenger (or sense) strand to generate the active RISC complex. Although this process was found to be facilitated through sense strand cleavage, there is evidence for an alternate mechanism, in which the strands are dissociated without prior cleavage. Here we show that the potency of siRNA can be improved by modulating the internal thermodynamic stability profile with chemical modifications. Using a model siRNA targeting the firefly luciferase gene with subnanomolar IC50, we found that placement of thermally destabilizing modifications, such as non-canonical bases like 2,4-difluorotoluene or single base pair mismatches in the central region of the sense strand (9–12 nt), significantly improve the potency. For this particular siRNA, the strongest correlation between the decrease in thermal stability and the increase in potency was found at position 10. Controls with stabilized sugar-phosphate backbone indicate that enzymatic cleavage of the sense strand prior to strand dissociation is not required for silencing activity. Similar potency-enhancing effects were observed as this approach was applied to other functional siRNAs targeting a different site on the firefly luciferase transcript or endogenously expressed PTEN.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq568
PMCID: PMC2978349  PMID: 20610434
7.  siRNA knock-down of mutant torsinA restores processing through secretory pathway in DYT1 dystonia cells 
Human molecular genetics  2008;17(10):1436-1445.
Most cases of the dominantly inherited movement disorder, early onset torsion dystonia (DYT1) are caused by a mutant form of torsinA lacking a glutamic acid residue in the C-terminal region (torsinAΔE). TorsinA is an AAA1 protein located predominantly in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and nuclear envelope apparently involved in membrane structure/movement and processing of proteins through the secretory pathway. A reporter protein Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) shows a reduced rate of secretion in primary fibroblasts from DYT1 patients expressing endogenous levels of torsinA and torsinAΔE when compared with control fibroblasts expressing only torsinA. In this study, small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligonucleotides were identified, which downregulate the levels of torsinA or torsinAΔE mRNA and protein by over 65% following transfection. Transfection of siRNA for torsinA message in control fibroblasts expressing Gluc reduced levels of luciferase secretion compared with the same cells non-transfected or transfected with a non-specific siRNA. Transfection of siRNA selectively inhibiting torsinAΔE message in DYT fibroblasts increased lucifer-ase secretion when compared with cells non-transfected or transfected with a non-specific siRNA. Further, transduction of DYT1 cells with a lentivirus vector expressing torsinA, but not torsinB, also increased secretion. These studies are consistent with a role for torsinA as an ER chaperone affecting processing of proteins through the secretory pathway and indicate that torsinAΔE acts to inhibit this torsinA activity. The ability of allele-specific siRNA for torsinAΔE to normalize secretory function in DYT1 patient cells supports its potential role as a therapeutic agent in early onset torsion dystonia.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn032
PMCID: PMC2861568  PMID: 18258738
8.  RNA Interference-Mediated Silencing of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus Nucleocapsid Defines a Potent Antiviral Strategy▿  
We describe the design and characterization of a potent human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) nucleocapsid gene-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA), ALN-RSV01. In in vitro RSV plaque assays, ALN-RSV01 showed a 50% inhibitory concentration of 0.7 nM. Sequence analysis of primary isolates of RSV showed that the siRNA target site was absolutely conserved in 89/95 isolates, and ALN-RSV01 demonstrated activity against all isolates, including those with single-mismatch mutations. In vivo, intranasal dosing of ALN-RSV01 in a BALB/c mouse model resulted in potent antiviral efficacy, with 2.5- to 3.0-log-unit reductions in RSV lung concentrations being achieved when ALN-RSV01 was administered prophylactically or therapeutically in both single-dose and multidose regimens. The specificity of ALN-RSV01 was demonstrated in vivo by using mismatch controls; and the absence of an immune stimulatory mechanism was demonstrated by showing that nonspecific siRNAs that induce alpha interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha lack antiviral efficacy, while a chemically modified form of ALN-RSV01 lacking measurable immunostimulatory capacity retained full activity in vivo. Furthermore, an RNA interference mechanism of action was demonstrated by the capture of the site-specific cleavage product of the RSV mRNA via rapid amplification of cDNA ends both in vitro and in vivo. These studies lay a solid foundation for the further investigation of ALN-RSV01 as a novel therapeutic antiviral agent for clinical use by humans.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00014-09
PMCID: PMC2737834  PMID: 19506055
9.  siRNA knock-down of mutant torsinA restores processing through secretory pathway in DYT1 dystonia cells 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(10):1436-1445.
Most cases of the dominantly inherited movement disorder, early onset torsion dystonia (DYT1) are caused by a mutant form of torsinA lacking a glutamic acid residue in the C-terminal region (torsinAΔE). TorsinA is an AAA+ protein located predominantly in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and nuclear envelope apparently involved in membrane structure/movement and processing of proteins through the secretory pathway. A reporter protein Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) shows a reduced rate of secretion in primary fibroblasts from DYT1 patients expressing endogenous levels of torsinA and torsinAΔE when compared with control fibroblasts expressing only torsinA. In this study, small interfering RNA (siRNA) oligonucleotides were identified, which downregulate the levels of torsinA or torsinAΔE mRNA and protein by over 65% following transfection. Transfection of siRNA for torsinA message in control fibroblasts expressing Gluc reduced levels of luciferase secretion compared with the same cells non-transfected or transfected with a non-specific siRNA. Transfection of siRNA selectively inhibiting torsinAΔE message in DYT fibroblasts increased luciferase secretion when compared with cells non-transfected or transfected with a non-specific siRNA. Further, transduction of DYT1 cells with a lentivirus vector expressing torsinA, but not torsinB, also increased secretion. These studies are consistent with a role for torsinA as an ER chaperone affecting processing of proteins through the secretory pathway and indicate that torsinAΔE acts to inhibit this torsinA activity. The ability of allele-specific siRNA for torsinAΔE to normalize secretory function in DYT1 patient cells supports its potential role as a therapeutic agent in early onset torsion dystonia.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn032
PMCID: PMC2861568  PMID: 18258738
10.  siRNA Down-regulation of the PATZ1 Gene in Human Glioma Cells Increases Their Sensitivity to Apoptotic Stimuli 
Cancer therapy  2008;6(B):865-876.
Summary
The PATZ1 gene encodes a transcription factor that belongs to the BTB/POZ group of transcriptional regulators and has been implicated as a transcriptional repressor. We cloned cDNA from glioma cell lines and found they expressed transcript variant 2 of PATZ1. We designed a specific siRNA against PATZ1 and showed that this siRNA, but not a control randomized siRNA, reduced PATZ1 expression in glioma cells as determined by quantitative PCR. In a panel of human glioma cell lines incubated with proapoptotic FasL, those transfected with PATZ1 siRNA displayed reduced cell numbers by the MTT colorimetric assay, relative to those transfected with randomized siRNA. Further studies showed that in 10-08-MG, U-251MG, U-87MG, and T98G cells PATZ1 siRNA significantly increased apoptosis in response to incubation with soluble FasL, as shown by a morphologic acridine orange/ethidium bromide apoptotic assay. Using an apoptosis specific cDNA microarray we further demonstrated that down-regulation of PATZ1 by siRNA resulted in the upregulation of death receptor pro-apoptotic genes including caspase 8 and Death Receptor 5 (DR5) in U-373MG cells. Since DR5 is the receptor for TRAIL we tested whether PATZ1 downregulation also sensitized cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis and found that PATZ1 siRNA, but not control siRNA, sensitized U-251MG and T98G glioma cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Altogether, these data demonstrate a previously unknown role for the transcription factor PATZ1 in conferring resistance to apoptosis and indicate that modulation of PATZ1 expression may be a therapeutic strategy for gliomas.
PMCID: PMC2600477  PMID: 19081762
siRNA; astrocytomas; apoptosis; FasL; TRAIL
11.  Selective inhibition of FLICE-like inhibitory protein expression with small interfering RNA oligonucleotides is sufficient to sensitize tumor cells for TRAIL-induced apoptosis. 
Molecular Medicine  2002;8(11):725-732.
BACKGROUND: Most tumors express death receptors and their activation represents a potential selective approach in cancer treatment. The most promising candidate for tumor selective death receptor-activation is tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)/Apo2L, which activates the death receptors TRAIL-R1 and TRAIL-R2, and induces apoptosis preferentially in tumor cells but not in normal tissues. However, many cancer cells are not or only moderately sensitive towards TRAIL and require cotreatment with irradiation or chemotherapy to yield a therapeutically reasonable apoptotic response. Because chemotherapy can have a broad range of unwanted side effects, more specific means for sensitizing tumor cells for TRAIL are desirable. The expression of the cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (cFLIP) is regarded as a major cause of TRAIL resistance. We therefore analyzed the usefulness of targeting FLIP to sensitize tumor cells for TRAIL-induced apoptosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To selectively interfere with expression of cFLIP short double-stranded RNA oligonucleotides (small interfering RNAs [siRNAs]) were introduced in the human cell lines SV80 and KB by electroporation. Effects of siRNA on FLIP expression were analyzed by Western blotting and RNase protection assay and correlated with TRAIL sensitivity upon stimulation with recombinant soluble TRAIL and TRAIL-R1- and TRAIL-R2-specific agonistic antibodies. RESULTS: FLIP expression can be inhibited by RNA interference using siRNAs, evident from reduced levels of FLIP-mRNA and FLIP protein. Inhibition of cFLIP expression sensitizes cells for apoptosis induction by TRAIL and other death ligands. In accordance with the presumed function of FLIP as an inhibitor of death receptor-induced caspase-8 activation, down-regulation of FLIP by siRNAs enhanced TRAIL-induced caspase-8 activation. CONCLUSION: Inhibition of FLIP expression was sufficient to sensitize tumor cells for TRAIL-induced apoptosis. The combination of TRAIL and FLIP-targeting siRNA could therefore be a useful strategy to attack cancer cells, which are resistant to TRAIL alone.
PMCID: PMC2039953  PMID: 12520089

Results 1-11 (11)