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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jan 15;274(3):1573-80.

Dual blockade of cyclic AMP response element- (CRE) and AP-1-directed transcription by CRE-transcription factor decoy oligonucleotide. gene-specific inhibition of tumor growth.

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  • 1Cellular Biochemistry Section, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, National Institutes of Health, NCI, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1750, USA.


Alteration of gene transcription by inhibition of specific transcriptional regulatory proteins has important therapeutic potential. Synthetic double-stranded phosphorothioate oligonucleotides with high affinity for a target transcription factor can be introduced into cells as decoy cis-elements to bind the factors and alter gene expression. The CRE (cyclic AMP response element)-transcription factor complex is a pleiotropic activator that participates in the induction of a wide variety of cellular and viral genes. Because the CRE cis-element, TGACGTCA, is palindromic, a synthetic single-stranded oligonucleotide composed of the CRE sequence self-hybridizes to form a duplex/hairpin. Herein we report that the CRE-palindromic oligonucleotide can penetrate into cells, compete with CRE enhancers for binding transcription factors, and specifically interfere with CRE- and AP-1-directed transcription in vivo. These oligonucleotides restrained tumor cell proliferation, without affecting the growth of noncancerous cells. This decoy oligonucleotide approach offers great promise as a tool for defining cellular regulatory processes and treating cancer and other diseases.

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