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Biopolymers. 2004 Jan;73(1):151-61.

New approaches to targeting RNA with oligonucleotides: inhibition of group I intron self-splicing.

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Department of Chemistry, and the Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Disease, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0216, USA.


RNA is one class of relatively unexplored drug targets. Since RNAs play a myriad of essential roles, it is likely that new drugs can be developed that target RNA. There are several factors that make targeting RNA particularly attractive. First, the amount of information about the roles of RNA in essential biological processes is currently being expanded. Second, sequence information about targetable RNA is pouring out of genome sequencing efforts at unprecedented levels. Third, designing and screening potential oligonucleotide therapeutics to target RNA is relatively simple. The use of oligonucleotides in cell culture, however, presents several challenges such as oligonucleotide uptake and stability, and selective targeting of genes of interest. Here, we review investigations aimed at targeting RNA with oligonucleotides that can circumvent several of these potential problems. The hallmark of the strategies discussed is the use of short oligonucleotides, which may have the advantage of higher cellular uptake and improved binding selectivity compared to longer oligonucleotides. These strategies have been applied to Group I introns from the mammalian pathogens Pneumocystis carinii and Candida albicans. Both are examples of fungal infections that are increasing in number and prevalence.

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