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Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Nov 15;32(20):5991-6000. Print 2004.

RNA interference using boranophosphate siRNAs: structure-activity relationships.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Box 3020, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


In RNA interference (RNAi), short double-stranded RNA (known as siRNA) inhibits expression from homologous genes. Clinical or pre-clinical use of siRNAs is likely to require stabilizing modifications because of the prevalence of intracellular and extracellular nucleases. In order to examine the effect of modification on siRNA efficacy and stability, we developed a new method for synthesizing stereoregular boranophosphate siRNAs. This work demonstrates that boranophosphate siRNAs are consistently more effective than siRNAs with the widely used phosphorothioate modification. Furthermore, boranophosphate siRNAs are frequently more active than native siRNA if the center of the antisense strand is not modified. Boranophosphate modification also increases siRNA potency. The finding that boranophosphate siRNAs are at least ten times more nuclease resistant than unmodified siRNAs may explain some of the positive effects of boranophosphate modification. The biochemical properties of boranophosphate siRNAs make them promising candidates for an RNAi-based therapeutic.

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