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Oligonucleotides. 2010 Apr;20(2):103-9. doi: 10.1089/oli.2009.0211.

The biological effect of an antisense oligonucleotide depends on its route of endocytosis and trafficking.

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Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


We demonstrate that the biological effect of an oligonucleotide is influenced by its route of cellular uptake. Utilizing a splice-switching antisense oligonucleotide (SSO) and a sensitive reporter assay involving correction of RNA splicing, we examined induction of luciferase in cells treated either with various concentrations of an unconjugated ("free") SSO or an SSO conjugated to a bivalent RGD ligand that promotes binding to the alphavbeta3 integrin (RGD-SSO). Under conditions of equal accumulation in cells, the RGD-SSO consistently had a greater effect on luciferase induction than the unconjugated SSO. We determined that the RGD-SSO and the unconjugated SSO were internalized by distinct endocytotic pathways, suggesting that the route of internalization affects the magnitude of the biological response.

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