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J Med Chem. 2010 May 13;53(9):3730-8. doi: 10.1021/jm100177p.

Impact of nature and length of linker incorporated in agonists on toll-like receptor 9-mediated immune responses.

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  • 1Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 167 Sidney Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Oligodeoxynucleotides containing unmethylated CpG motifs act as ligands of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9). We previously reported a novel class of TLR9 agonists, referred to as immune-modulatory oligonucleotides (IMOs), in which two 11-mers of the same sequence are attached via their 3'-ends through a 1,2,3-propanetriol linker and contain a synthetic immune-stimulatory motif, Cp7-deaza-dG. In the present study, we have examined the impact of length, nature, and stereochemistry of the linker incorporated in agonists for TLR9 activation. The new linkers studied include (S)-(-)-1,2,4-butanetriol, 1,3,5-pentanetriol, cis,cis-1,3,5-cyclohexanetriol, cis,trans-1,3,5-cyclohexanetriol, 1,3,5-tris(2-hydroxyethyl)isocyanurate, tetraethyleneglycol, and hexaethyleneglycol in place of 1,2,3-propanetriol linker. Agonists with various linkers are studied for TLR9-mediated immune responses in HEK293 cells, human cell-based assays, and in vivo in mice. Results of these studies suggest that C3-C5 linkers, 1,2,3-propanetriol, (S)-(-)-1,2,4-butanetriol, or 1,3,5-pentanetriol, are optimal for stimulation of TLR9-mediated immune responses. Rigid C3 linkers with different stereochemistry have little effect on immune stimulation, while linkers longer than C5 reduced TLR9-mediated immune stimulation.

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