Chemically Modified Oligonucleotides Modulate an Epigenetically Varied and Transient Form of Transcription Silencing of HIV-1 in Human Cells.
ABSTRACT: Small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been shown to guide epigenetic silencing complexes to target loci in human cells. When targeted to gene promoters, these small RNAs can lead to long-term stable epigenetic silencing of gene transcription. To date, small RNAs have been shown to modulate transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) as well as several other disease-related genes, but it has remained unknown as to what extent particular chemistries can be used to generate single-stranded backbone-modified oligonucleotides that are amenable to this form of gene targeting and regulation. Here, we present data indicating that specific combinations of backbone modifications can be used to generate single-stranded antisense oligonucleotides that can functionally direct TGS of HIV-1 in a manner that is however, independent of epigenetic changes at the target loci. Furthermore, this functionality appears contingent on the absence of a 5' phosphate in the oligonucleotide. These data suggest that chemically modified oligonucleotide based approaches could be implemented as a means to regulate gene transcription in an epigenetically independent manner.
Project description:Myostatin (Mstn) is a secreted growth factor that negatively regulates muscle mass and is therefore a potential pharmacological target for the treatment of muscle wasting disorders such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Here we describe a novel Mstn blockade approach in which small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) complementary to a promoter-associated transcript induce transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) in two differentiated mouse muscle cell lines. Silencing is sensitive to treatment with the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A, and the silent state chromatin mark H3K9me2 is enriched at the Mstn promoter following siRNA transfection, suggesting epigenetic remodeling underlies the silencing effect. These observations suggest that long-term epigenetic silencing may be feasible for Mstn and that TGS is a promising novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of muscle wasting disorders.
Project description:Small RNAs targeted to gene promoters in human cells can mediate transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) by directing silent state epigenetic modifications to targeted loci. Many mechanistic details of this process remain poorly defined, and the ability to stably modulate gene expression in this manner has not been explored. Here we describe the mechanisms of establishment and maintenance of long-term transcriptional silencing of the human ubiquitin C gene (UbC). Sustained targeting of the UbC promoter with a small RNA for a minimum of 3 days resulted in long-term silencing which correlated with an early increase in histone methylation and a later increase in DNA methylation at the targeted locus. Transcriptional silencing of UbC required the presence of a promoter-associated RNA. The establishment and maintenance of the TGS were shown to require distinct protein factors. Argonaute 1 (Ago1), DNA methyltransferase 3a (DNMT3a) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) were required for the initiation of silencing, and DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) was necessary for maintenance. Taken together the data presented here highlight the cellular pathway with which noncoding RNAs interact to epigenetically regulate gene expression in human cells.
Project description:We show that convergent transcription induces transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) in trans for both fission yeast and mammalian cells. This method has advantages over existing strategies to induce gene silencing. Previous studies in fission yeast have characterized TGS as a cis-specific process involving RNA interference that maintains heterochromatic regions such as centromeres. In contrast, in mammalian cells, gene silencing is known to occur through a post-transcriptional mechanism that uses exogenous short interfering RNAs or endogenous microRNAs to inactivate mRNA. We now show that the introduction of convergent transcription plasmids into either Schizosaccharomyces pombe or mammalian cells allows the production of double-stranded RNA from inserted gene fragments, resulting in TGS of endogenous genes. We predict that using convergent transcription to induce gene silencing will be a generally useful strategy and allow for a fuller molecular understanding of the biology of TGS.
Project description:It has been well established that trans-acting small RNAs guide promoter methylation leading to its inactivation and gene silencing at the transcriptional level (TGS). Here we addressed the question of the influence of the locus structure and epigenetic modifications of the target locus on its susceptibility for being paramutated by trans-acting small RNA molecules. Silencing was induced by crossing a 35S promoter silencer locus 271 with two different 35S-driven transgene loci, locus 2 containing a highly expressed single copy gene and locus 1 containing an inverted posttranscriptionally silenced (PTGS) repeat of this gene. Three generations of exposure to RNA signals from the 271 locus were required to complete silencing and methylation of the 35S promoter within locus 2. Segregating methylated locus 2 epialleles were obtained only from the third generation of hybrids, and this methylation was not correlated with silencing. Strikingly, only one generation was required for the PTGS locus 1 to acquire complete TGS and 35S promoter methylation. In this case, paramutated locus 1 epialleles bearing methylated and inactive 35S promoters segregated already from the first generation of hybrids. The results support the hypothesis that PTGS loci containing a palindrome structure and methylation in the coding region are more sensitive to paramutation by small RNAs and exhibit a strong tendency to formation of meiotically transmissible TGS epialleles. These features contrast with a non-methylated single copy transgenic locus that required several generations of contact with RNA silencing molecules to become imprinted in a stable epiallele.
Project description:Two mechanisms dominate the clinical pipeline for oligonucleotide-based gene silencing, namely, the antisense approach that recruits RNase H to cleave target RNA and the RNAi approach that recruits the RISC complex to cleave target RNA. Multiple chemical designs can be used to elicit each pathway. We compare the silencing of the asthma susceptibility gene ADAM33 in MRC-5 lung fibroblasts using four classes of gene silencing agents, two that use each mechanism: traditional duplex small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), single-stranded small interfering RNAs (ss-siRNAs), locked nucleic acid (LNA) gapmer antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), and novel hexadecyloxypropyl conjugates of the ASOs. Of these designs, the gapmer ASOs emerged as lead compounds for silencing ADAM33 expression: several gapmer ASOs showed subnanomolar potency when transfected with cationic lipid and low micromolar potency with no toxicity when delivered gymnotically. The preferential susceptibility of ADAM33 mRNA to silencing by RNase H may be related to the high degree of nuclear retention observed for this mRNA. Dynamic light scattering data showed that the hexadecyloxypropyl ASO conjugates self-assemble into clusters. These conjugates showed reduced potency relative to unconjugated ASOs unless the lipophilic tail was conjugated to the ASO using a biocleavable linkage. Finally, based on the lead ASOs from (human) MRC-5 cells, we developed a series of homologous ASOs targeting mouse Adam33 with excellent activity. Our work confirms that ASO-based gene silencing of ADAM33 is a useful tool for asthma research and therapy.
Project description:DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark involved in diverse biological processes. In plants, DNA methylation can be established through the RNA-directed DNA methylation pathway, an RNA interference pathway for transcriptional gene silencing (TGS), which requires 24-nt small interfering RNAs. In mammals, de novo DNA methylation occurs primarily at two developmental stages: during early embryogenesis and during gametogenesis. While it is not clear whether establishment of DNA methylation patterns in mammals involves RNA interference in general, de novo DNA methylation and suppression of transposons in germ cells require 24-32-nt piwi-interacting small RNAs. DNA methylation status is dynamically regulated by DNA methylation and demethylation reactions. In plants, active DNA demethylation relies on the repressor of silencing 1 family of bifunctional DNA glycosylases, which remove the 5-methylcytosine base and then cleave the DNA backbone at the abasic site, initiating a base excision repair (BER) pathway. In animals, multiple mechanisms of active DNA demethylation have been proposed, including a deaminase- and DNA glycosylase-initiated BER pathway. New information concerning the effects of various histone modifications on the establishment and maintenance of DNA methylation has broadened our understanding of the regulation of DNA methylation. The function of DNA methylation in plants and animals is also discussed in this review.
Project description:Short single-stranded oligonucleotides represent a class of promising therapeutics with diverse application areas. Antisense oligonucleotides, for example, can interfere with various processes involved in mRNA processing through complementary base pairing. Also RNA interference can be regulated by antagomirs, single-stranded siRNA and single-stranded microRNA mimics. The increased susceptibility to nucleolytic degradation of unpaired RNAs can be counteracted by chemical modification of the sugar phosphate backbone. In order to understand the dynamics of such single-stranded RNAs, we investigated their fate after exposure to cellular environment by several fluorescence spectroscopy techniques. First, we elucidated the degradation of four differently modified, dual-dye labeled short RNA oligonucleotides in HeLa cell extracts by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, fluorescence cross-correlation spectroscopy and Förster resonance energy transfer. We observed that the integrity of the oligonucleotide sequence correlates with the extent of chemical modifications. Furthermore, the data showed that nucleolytic degradation can only be distinguished from unspecific effects like aggregation, association with cellular proteins, or intramolecular dynamics when considering multiple measurement and analysis approaches. We also investigated the localization and integrity of the four modified oligonucleotides in cultured HeLa cells using fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. No intracellular accumulation could be observed for unmodified oligonucleotides, while completely stabilized oligonucleotides showed strong accumulation within HeLa cells with no changes in fluorescence lifetime over 24 h. The integrity and accumulation of partly modified oligonucleotides was in accordance with their extent of modification. In highly fluorescent cells, the oligonucleotides were transported to the nucleus. The lifetime of the RNA in the cells could be explained by a balance between release of the oligonucleotides from endosomes, degradation by RNases and subsequent depletion from the cells.
Project description:RNA interference (RNAi)--using antisense DNA or RNA oligonucleotides to silence activity of a specific pathogenic gene transcript and reduce expression of the encoded protein--is very useful in dissecting genetic function and holds significant promise as a molecular therapeutic. A major obstacle in achieving gene silencing with RNAi technology is the systemic delivery of therapeutic oligonucleotides. Here we demonstrate an engineered gold nanoshell (NS)-based therapeutic oligonucleotide delivery vehicle, designed to release its cargo on demand upon illumination with a near-infrared (NIR) laser. A poly-L-lysine peptide (PLL) epilayer covalently attached to the NS surface (NS-PLL) is used to capture intact, single-stranded antisense DNA oligonucleotides, or alternatively, double-stranded short-interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules. Controlled release of the captured therapeutic oligonucleotides in each case is accomplished by continuous wave NIR laser irradiation at 800 nm, near the resonance wavelength of the nanoshell. Fluorescently tagged oligonucleotides were used to monitor the time-dependent release process and light-triggered endosomal release. A green fluorescent protein (GFP)-expressing human lung cancer H1299 cell line was used to determine cellular uptake and gene silencing mediated by the NS-PLL carrying GFP gene-specific single-stranded DNA antisense oligonucleotide (AON-GFP), or a double-stranded siRNA (siRNA-GFP), in vitro. Light-triggered delivery resulted in ~47% and ~49% downregulation of the targeted GFP expression by AON-GFP and siRNA-GFP, respectively. Cytotoxicity induced by both the NS-PLL delivery vector and by laser irradiation is minimal, as demonstrated by a XTT cell proliferation assay.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding transcripts that regulate gene expression. Aberrant expression of miRNAs can affect development of cancer and other diseases. Synthetic miRNA mimics can modulate gene expression and offer an approach to therapy. Inside cells, mature miRNAs are produced as double-stranded RNAs and miRNA mimics typically retain both strands. This need for two strands has the potential to complicate drug development. Recently, synthetic chemically modified single-stranded silencing RNAs (ss-siRNA) have been shown to function through the RNAi pathway to induce gene silencing in cell culture and animals. Here, we test the hypothesis that single-stranded miRNA (ss-miRNA) can also mimic the function of miRNAs. We show that ss-miRNAs can act as miRNA mimics to silence the expression of target genes. Gene silencing requires expression of argonaute 2 (AGO2) protein and involves recruitment of AGO2 to the target transcripts. Chemically modified ss-miRNAs function effectively inside cells through endogenous RNAi pathways and broaden the options for miRNA-based oligonucleotide drug development.
Project description:Oligonucleotides is an emerging class of chemically-distinct therapeutic modalities, where extensive chemical modifications are fundamental for their clinical applications. Inter-nucleotide backbones are critical to the behaviour of therapeutic oligonucleotides, but clinically explored backbone analogues are, effectively, limited to phosphorothioates. Here, we describe the synthesis and bio-functional characterization of an internucleotide (E)-vinylphosphonate (iE-VP) backbone, where bridging oxygen is substituted with carbon in a locked stereo-conformation. After optimizing synthetic pathways for iE-VP-linked dimer phosphoramidites in different sugar contexts, we systematically evaluated the impact of the iE-VP backbone on oligonucleotide interactions with a variety of cellular proteins. Furthermore, we systematically evaluated the impact of iE-VP on RNA-Induced Silencing Complex (RISC) activity, where backbone stereo-constraining has profound position-specific effects. Using Huntingtin (HTT) gene causative of Huntington's disease as an example, iE-VP at position 6 significantly enhanced the single mismatch discrimination ability of the RISC without negative impact on silencing of targeting wild type htt gene. These findings suggest that the iE-VP backbone can be used to modulate the activity and specificity of RISC. Our study provides (i) a new chemical tool to alter oligonucleotide-enzyme interactions and metabolic stability, (ii) insight into RISC dynamics and (iii) a new strategy for highly selective SNP-discriminating siRNAs.