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1.  Electroporation Enhanced Effect of Dystrophin Splice Switching PNA Oligomers in Normal and Dystrophic Muscle 
Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic DNA mimic that has shown potential for discovery of novel splice switching antisense drugs. However, in vivo cellular delivery has been a limiting factor for development, and only few successful studies have been reported. As a possible modality for improvement of in vivo cellular availability, we have investigated the effect of electrotransfer upon intramuscular (i.m.) PNA administration in vivo. Antisense PNA targeting exon 23 of the murine dystrophin gene was administered by i.m. injection to the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle of normal NMRI and dystrophic mdx mice with or without electroporation. At low, single PNA doses (1.5, 3, or 10 µg/TA), electroporation augmented the antisense exon skipping induced by an unmodified PNA by twofold to fourfold in healthy mouse muscle with optimized electric parameters, measured after 7 days. The PNA splice switching was detected at the RNA level up to 4 weeks after a single-dose treatment. In dystrophic muscles of the MDX mouse, electroporation increased the number of dystrophin-positive fibers about 2.5-fold at 2 weeks after a single PNA administration compared to injection only. In conclusion, we find that electroporation can enhance PNA antisense effects in muscle tissue.
PMCID: PMC5014535  PMID: 26623939
antisense; electroporation; exon skipping; mdx; PNA; splicing modulation
2.  Cell number and transfection volume dependent peptide nucleic acid antisense activity by cationic delivery methods 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(1):22-30.
Efficient intracellular delivery is essential for high activity of nucleic acids based therapeutics, including antisense agents. Several strategies have been developed and practically all rely on auxiliary transfection reagents such as cationic lipids, cationic polymers and cell penetrating peptides as complexing agents and carriers of the nucleic acids. However, uptake mechanisms remain rather poorly understood, and protocols always require optimization of transfection parameters. Considering that cationic transfection complexes bind to and thus may up-concentrate on the cell surface, we have now quantitatively compared the cellular activity (in the pLuc705 HeLa cell splice correction system) of PNA antisense oligomers using lipoplex delivery of cholesterol- and bisphosphonate-PNA conjugates, polyplex delivery via a PNA-polyethyleneimine conjugate and CPP delivery via a PNA-octaarginine conjugate upon varying the cell culture transfection volume (and cell density) at fixed PNA concentration. The results show that for all delivery modalities the cellular antisense activity increases (less than proportionally) with increasing volume (in some cases accompanied with increased toxicity), and that this effect is more pronounced at higher cell densities. These results emphasize that transfection efficacy using cationic carriers is critically dependent on parameters such as transfection volume and cell density, and that these must be taken into account when comparing different delivery regimes.
PMCID: PMC3368813  PMID: 22679530
antisense; cellular delivery; lipoplex; octaarginine (CPP); peptide nucleic acid (PNA); polyethyleneimine (PEI)
3.  Peptide nucleic acid (PNA) cell penetrating peptide (CPP) conjugates as carriers for cellular delivery of antisense oligomers 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(3):90-99.
We have explored the merits of a novel delivery strategy for the antisense oligomers based on cell penetrating peptide (CPP) conjugated to a carrier PNA with sequence complementary to part of the antisense oligomer. The effect of these carrier CPP-PNAs was evaluated by using antisense PNA targeting splicing correction of the mutated luciferase gene in the HeLa pLuc705 cell line, reporting cellular (nuclear) uptake of the antisense PNA via luciferase activity measurement. Carrier CPP-PNA constructs were studied in terms of construct modification (with octaarginine and/or decanoic acid) and carrier PNA length (to adjust binding affinity). In general, the carrier CPP-PNA constructs including the ones with decanoyl modification provided significant increase of the activity of unmodified antisense PNA as well as of antisense octaarginine-PNA conjugates. Antisense activity, and by inference cellular delivery, of unmodified antisense PNA was enhanced at least 20-fold at 6 μM upon the complexation with an equimolar amount of nonamer carrier decanoyl-CPP-PNA (Deca-cPNA1(9)-(D-Arg)8). The antisense activity of a CPP-PNA ((D-Arg)8-asPNA) (at 2 μM) was improved 6-fold and 8-fold by a heptamer carrier CPP-PNA (cPNA1(7)-(D-Arg)8) and hexamer carrier decanoyl-CPP-PNA (Deca-cPNA1(6)-(D-Arg)8), respectively, without showing significant additional cellular toxicity. Most interestingly, the activity reached the same level obtained by enhancement with endosomolytic chloroquine (CQ) treatment, suggesting that the carrier might facilitate endosomal escape. Furthermore, 50% downregulation of luciferase expression at 60 nM siRNA was obtained using this carrier CPP-PNA delivery strategy (with CQ co-treatment) for a single stranded antisense RNA targeting normal luciferase mRNA. These results indicated that CPP-PNA carriers may be used as effective cellular delivery vectors for different types of antisense oligomers and also allows use of combinations of (at least two) different CPP ligands.
PMCID: PMC3324339  PMID: 22567192
antisense; carrier; cell penetrating peptide (CPP); cellular delivery; peptide nucleic acid (PNA); siRNA
4.  Sensitive detection of nucleic acids by PNA hybridization directed co-localization of fluorescent beads 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(2):60-66.
We have designed a pair of biotinylated peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes targeting two sequences in 18S rRNA (from the parasite Trypanosoma brucei) at a distance of 191 nt (corresponding to maximum distance of ca. 60 nm) from each other. The PNA probes were individually bound to (strept)avidin-coated fluorescent beads, differing in size and color [green beads (1 µm) and red beads (5.9 µm)], thereby allowing distinct detection of each PNA probe by conventional fluorescence microscopy. These two PNA beads showed easily detectable co-localization when simultaneously hybridizing to a target nucleic acid. The assay detected the parasite 18S rRNA down to 1.6 fmol while there was no such co-localization visible with human 18S rRNA not containing the PNA targets. Furthermore, the assay showed positive detection with 1.6 ng of total RNA (corresponding to RNA from ca. 300 parasites). Upon further optimization this method may provide a new tool for a diagnosis of Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) and it may more generally have applications within diagnostics for (neglected) infectious diseases.
PMCID: PMC3166491  PMID: 21912728
diagnostics; fluorescence microscopy; fluorescent bead; PNA; ribosomal RNA; Trypanosome
5.  Antisense mediated exon skipping therapy for duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(1):6-15.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene (DMD) that result in the absence of essential muscle protein dystrophin. Among many different approaches for DMD treatment, exon skipping, mediated by antisense oligonucleotides, is one of the most promising methods for restoration of dystrophin expression. This approach has been tested extensively targeting different exons in numerous models both in vitro and in vivo. During the past 10 years, there has been a considerable progress by using DMD animal models involving three types of antisense oligonucleotides (2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate (2OME-PS), phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO)) and peptide nucleic acid (PNA).
PMCID: PMC3116580  PMID: 21686247
antisense; DMD; exon skipping; in vivo; splicing modulation; therapy
6.  Modulation of mdm2 pre-mRNA splicing by 9-aminoacridine-PNA (peptide nucleic acid) conjugates targeting intron-exon junctions 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:342.
Modulation of pre-mRNA splicing by antisense molecules is a promising mechanism of action for gene therapeutic drugs. In this study, we have examined the potential of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) 9-aminoacridine conjugates to modulate the pre-mRNA splicing of the mdm2 human cancer gene in JAR cells.
We screened 10 different 15 mer PNAs targeting intron2 at both the 5' - and the 3'-splice site for their effects on the splicing of mdm2 using RT-PCR analysis. We also tested a PNA (2512) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron3 with a complementarity of 4 bases to intron3 and 11 bases to exon4 for its splicing modulation effect. This PNA2512 was further tested for the effects on the mdm2 protein level as well as for inhibition of cell growth in combination with the DNA damaging agent camptothecin (CPT).
We show that several of these PNAs effectively inhibit the splicing thereby producing a larger mRNA still containing intron2, while skipping of exon3 was not observed by any of these PNAs. The most effective PNA (PNA2406) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron2 had a complementarity of 4 bases to intron2 and 11 bases to exon3. PNA (2512) targeting the 3'-splice site of intron3 induced both splicing inhibition (intron3 skipping) and skipping of exon4. Furthermore, treatment of JAR cells with this PNA resulted in a reduction in the level of MDM2 protein and a concomitant increase in the level of tumor suppressor p53. In addition, a combination of this PNA with CPT inhibited cell growth more than CPT alone.
We have identified several PNAs targeting the 5'- or 3'-splice sites in intron2 or the 3'-splice site of intron3 of mdm2 pre-mRNA which can inhibit splicing. Antisense targeting of splice junctions of mdm2 pre-mRNA may be a powerful method to evaluate the cellular function of MDM2 splice variants as well as a promising approach for discovery of mdm2 targeted anticancer drugs.
PMCID: PMC2910690  PMID: 20591158
7.  Subnanomolar antisense activity of phosphonate-peptide nucleic acid (PNA) conjugates delivered by cationic lipids to HeLa cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(13):4424-4432.
In the search of facile and efficient methods for cellular delivery of peptide nucleic acids (PNA), we have synthesized PNAs conjugated to oligophosphonates via phosphonate glutamine and bis-phosphonate lysine amino acid derivatives thereby introducing up to twelve phosphonate moieties into a PNA oligomer. This modification of the PNA does not interfere with the nucleic acid target binding affinity based on thermal stability of the PNA/RNA duplexes. When delivered to cultured HeLa pLuc705 cells by Lipofectamine, the PNAs showed dose-dependent nuclear antisense activity in the nanomolar range as inferred from induced luciferase activity as a consequence of pre-mRNA splicing correction by the antisense-PNA. Antisense activity depended on the number of phosphonate moieties and the most potent hexa-bis-phosphonate-PNA showed at least 20-fold higher activity than that of an optimized PNA/DNA hetero-duplex. These results indicate that conjugation of phosphonate moieties to the PNA can dramatically improve cellular delivery mediated by cationic lipids without affecting on the binding affinity and sequence discrimination ability, exhibiting EC50 values down to one nanomolar. Thus the intracellular efficacy of PNA oligomers rival that of siRNA and the results therefore emphasize that provided sufficient in vivo bioavailability of PNA can be achieved these molecules may be developed into potent gene therapeutic drugs.
PMCID: PMC2490735  PMID: 18596083
8.  Down-regulation of MDM2 and activation of p53 in human cancer cells by antisense 9-aminoacridine–PNA (peptide nucleic acid) conjugates 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(16):4893-4902.
A series of peptide nucleic acid (PNA) oligomers targeting the mdm2 oncogene mRNA has been tested for the ability to inhibit the growth of JAR cells. The effect of these PNAs on the cells was also reflected in reduced levels of the MDM2 protein and increased levels of the p53 tumor suppressor protein, which is negatively regulated by MDM2. Initially, PNA oligomers were delivered as DNA complexes with lipofectamine, but it was discovered that PNA conjugated to the DNA intercalator 9-aminoacridine (Acr) (Acr–PNA) could be effectively delivered to JAR cells (as well as to HeLa pLuc705 cells) even in the absence of a DNA carrier. Using such lipofectamine-delivered Acr–PNA conjugates, one PNA targeting a cryptic AUG initiation site was identified that at a concentration of 2 μM caused a reduction of MDM2 levels to ∼20% (but no reduction in mdm2 mRNA levels) and a 3-fold increase in p53 levels, whereas a 2-base mismatch control had no such effects. Furthermore, transcriptional activation by p53 was also increased (6-fold), and cell viability was reduced to 80%. Finally, this PNA acted cooperatively with camptothecin treatment both with regard to p53 activity induction as well as cell viability. Using this novel cell delivery system, we have identified a target on the mdm2 mRNA that appears sensitive to antisense inhibition by PNA and therefore could be used as a lead for further development of mdm2-targeted antisense (PNA and other) gene therapeutic anticancer drugs.
PMCID: PMC519114  PMID: 15371552

Results 1-8 (8)