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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Jun;39(11):4795-807. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr089. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Mechanisms of single-stranded phosphorothioate modified antisense oligonucleotide accumulation in hepatocytes.

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Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., 1896 Rutherford Road, Carlsbad, CA 92008 and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., 300 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


Single-stranded antisense oligonucleotides (SSOs) are used to modulate the expression of genes in animal models and are being investigated as potential therapeutics. To better understand why synthetic SSOs accumulate in the same intracellular location as the target RNA, we have isolated a novel mouse hepatocellular SV40 large T-antigen carcinoma cell line, MHT that maintains the ability to efficiently take up SSOs over several years in culture. Sequence-specific antisense effects are demonstrated at low nanomolar concentrations. SSO accumulation into cells is both time and concentration dependent. At least two distinct cellular pathways are responsible for SSO accumulation in cells: a non-productive pathway resulting in accumulation in lysosomes, and a functional uptake pathway in which the SSO gains access to the targeted RNA. We demonstrate that functional uptake, as defined by a sequence-specific reduction in target mRNA, is inhibited by brefeldin A and chloroquine. Functional uptake is blocked by siRNA inhibitors of the adaptor protein AP2M1, but not by clathrin or caveolin. Furthermore, we document that treatment of mice with an AP2M1 siRNA blocks functional uptake into liver tissue. Functional uptake of SSO appears to be mediated by a novel clathrin- and caveolin-independent endocytotic process.

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