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J Biol Chem. 1991 Sep 25;266(27):18162-71.

Antisense oligonucleotides inhibit intercellular adhesion molecule 1 expression by two distinct mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, California 92008.


Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) is a glycoprotein expressed on the surface of both hemopoietic and nonhemopoietic cells that mediates, in part, the emigration of leukocytes out of the vasculature. Expression of ICAM-1 on the surface of human umbilical vein endothelial cells and a human lung carcinoma cell line (A549) was increased by interleukin-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma in a concentration-dependent manner. Phosphorothioate antisense oligonucleotides designed to hybridize to 10 target sites on the human ICAM-1 mRNA were tested for inhibition of ICAM-1 expression in both cell lines by an ICAM-1 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Based upon potency and unique mRNA target sites, two oligonucleotides were studied in greater detail: ISIS 1570, which targeted the AUG translation initiation codon, and ISIS 1939, which targeted specific sequences in the 3'-untranslated region of the mRNA. Both oligonucleotides specifically inhibit expression of ICAM-1 as analyzed by immunoprecipitation of 35S-labeled proteins. Treatment of cells with ISIS 1939 promoted a reduction in ICAM-1 mRNA, whereas ISIS 1570 did not change the level of ICAM-1 mRNA, suggesting that the two oligonucleotides may be inhibiting ICAM-1 expression by two different mechanisms. The activity of both oligonucleotides was blocked by hybridization of the oligonucleotide to its complementary sense strand prior to addition to the cells. Neither ISIS 1570 nor ISIS 1939 changed the transcriptional rate of the ICAM-1 gene, demonstrating that both oligonucleotides were working through a post-transcriptional mechanism. 2'-O-Methyl phosphorothioate analogs, which do not support RNase H-mediated cleavage of target mRNA, were used to determine if the active antisense oligonucleotides inhibited ICAM-1 expression by an RNase H-dependent mechanism. The 2'-O-methyl phosphorothioate analog of ISIS 1939 did not significantly reduce interleukin-1 beta-induced ICAM-1 expression, whereas the 2'-O-methyl phosphorothioate analog of ISIS 1570 did inhibit ICAM-1 expression, suggesting that the reduction of ICAM-1 mRNA following treatment with ISIS 1939 was due, in part, to RNase H-mediated hydrolysis. Adherence of HL-60 cells to human umbilical vein cell monolayers was inhibited by ISIS 1570 and ISIS 1939, demonstrating that the reduced levels of ICAM-1 impact on ICAM-1-associated function.

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