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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Dec;38(22):8348-56. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq731. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

Anti-tumor activity of splice-switching oligonucleotides.

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Department of Pharmacology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Alternative splicing has emerged as an important target for molecular therapies. Splice-switching oligonucleotides (SSOs) modulate alternative splicing by hybridizing to pre-mRNA sequences involved in splicing and blocking access to the transcript by splicing factors. Recently, the efficacy of SSOs has been established in various animal disease models; however, the application of SSOs against cancer targets has been hindered by poor in vivo delivery of antisense therapeutics to tumor cells. The apoptotic regulator Bcl-x is alternatively spliced to express anti-apoptotic Bcl-x(L) and pro-apoptotic Bcl-x(S). Bcl-x(L) is upregulated in many cancers and is associated with chemoresistance, distinguishing it as an important target for cancer therapy. We previously showed that redirection of Bcl-x pre-mRNA splicing from Bcl-x(L) to -x(S) induced apoptosis in breast and prostate cancer cells. In this study, the effect of SSO-induced Bcl-x splice-switching on metastatic melanoma was assessed in cell culture and B16F10 tumor xenografts. SSOs were delivered in vivo using lipid nanoparticles. Administration of nanoparticle with Bcl-x SSO resulted in modification of Bcl-x pre-mRNA splicing in lung metastases and reduced tumor load, while nanoparticle alone or formulated with a control SSO had no effect. Our findings demonstrate in vivo anti-tumor activity of SSOs that modulate Bcl-x pre-mRNA splicing.

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