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Hum Mol Genet. 1999 Dec;8(13):2415-23.

Double-target antisense U7 snRNAs promote efficient skipping of an aberrant exon in three human beta-thalassemic mutations.

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Abteilung für Entwicklungsbiologie, Zoologisches Institut der Universität Bern, Baltzerstrasse 4, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland.


We have used three beta-thalassemic mutations, IVS2-654, -705 and -745, that create aberrant 5' splice sites (5' ss) and activate a common cryptic 3' ss further upstream in intron 2 of the human beta-globin gene to optimize a generally applicable exon-skipping strategy using antisense derivatives of U7 small nuclear RNA (snRNA). Introducing a modified U7 snRNA gene carrying an antisense sequence against the cryptic 3' ss into cultured cells expressing the mutant beta-globin genes, restored correct beta-globin mRNA splicing for all three mutations, but the efficiency was much weaker for IVS2-654 than for the other mutations. The length of antisense sequence influenced the efficiency with an optimum of approximately 24 nucleotides. Combining two antisense sequences directed against different target sites in intron 2, either on separate antisense RNAs or, even better, on a single U7 snRNA, significantly enhanced the efficiency of splicing correction. One double-target U7 RNA was expressed on stable transformation resulting in permanent and efficient suppression of the IVS2-654 mutation and production of beta-globin. These results suggest that forcing the aberrant exon into a looped secondary structure may strongly promote its exclusion from the mRNA and that this approach may be used generally to induce exon skipping.

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