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Pigment Cell Res. 2000 Apr;13(2):72-9.

Gene correction by RNA-DNA oligonucleotides.

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Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology, Jefferson Institute of Molecular Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


An oligonucleotide composed of a contiguous stretch of RNA and DNA residues has been developed to facilitate the correction of single-base mutations of episomal and chromosomal targets in mammalian cells. The design of the oligonucleotide exploited the highly recombinogenic RNA-DNA hybrids and featured hairpin capped ends avoiding destruction by cellular helicases or exonucleases. The RNA-DNA oligonucleotide (RDO) was designed to correct a point mutation in the tyrosinase gene and caused a permanent gene correction in mouse albino melanocytes, determined by clonal analysis at the level of genomic sequence, protein and phenotypic change. Recently, we demonstrated correction of the tyrosinase gene using the same RDO in vivo, as detected by dark pigmentation of several hairs and DOPA staining of hair follicles in the treated skin of albino mice. Such RDOs might hold a promise as a therapeutic method for the treatment of skin diseases. However, the frequency of gene correction varies among different cells, indicating that cellular activities, such as recombination and repair, may be important for gene conversion by RDOs. As this technology becomes more widely utilized in the scientific community, it will be important to understand the mechanism and to optimize the design of RDOs to improve their efficiency and general applicability.

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