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Mol Ther. 2013 May;21(5):924-33. doi: 10.1038/mt.2012.276. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Application of mutated miR-206 target sites enables skeletal muscle-specific silencing of transgene expression of cardiotropic AAV9 vectors.

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Department of Applied Biochemistry, Institute of Biotechnology, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Insertion of completely complementary microRNA (miR) target sites (miRTS) into a transgene has been shown to be a valuable approach to specifically repress transgene expression in non-targeted tissues. miR-122TS have been successfully used to silence transgene expression in the liver following systemic application of cardiotropic adeno-associated virus (AAV) 9 vectors. For miR-206-mediated skeletal muscle-specific silencing of miR-206TS-bearing AAV9 vectors, however, we found this approach failed due to the expression of another member (miR-1) of the same miR family in heart tissue, the intended target. We introduced single-nucleotide substitutions into the miR-206TS and searched for those which prevented miR-1-mediated cardiac repression. Several mutated miR-206TS (m206TS), in particular m206TS-3G, were resistant to miR-1, but remained fully sensitive to miR-206. All these variants had mismatches in the seed region of the miR/m206TS duplex in common. Furthermore, we found that some m206TS, containing mismatches within the seed region or within the 3' portion of the miR-206, even enhanced the miR-206- mediated transgene repression. In vivo expression of m206TS-3G- and miR-122TS-containing transgene of systemically applied AAV9 vectors was strongly repressed in both skeletal muscle and the liver but remained high in the heart. Thus, site-directed mutagenesis of miRTS provides a new strategy to differentiate transgene de-targeting of related miRs.

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