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J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Apr 30;136(17):6355-61. doi: 10.1021/ja5012146. Epub 2014 Apr 22.

Targeting toxic RNAs that cause myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) with a bisamidinium inhibitor.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , 600 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States.


A working hypothesis for the pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) involves the aberrant sequestration of an alternative splicing regulator, MBNL1, by expanded CUG repeats, r(CUG)(exp). It has been suggested that a reversal of the myotonia and potentially other symptoms of the DM1 disease can be achieved by inhibiting the toxic MBNL1-r(CUG)(exp) interaction. Using rational design, we discovered an RNA-groove binding inhibitor (ligand 3) that contains two triaminotriazine units connected by a bisamidinium linker. Ligand 3 binds r(CUG)12 with a low micromolar affinity (K(d) = 8 ± 2 μM) and disrupts the MBNL1-r(CUG)12 interaction in vitro (K(i) = 8 ± 2 μM). In addition, ligand 3 is cell and nucleus permeable, exhibits negligible toxicity to mammalian cells, dissolves MBNL1-r(CUG)(exp) ribonuclear foci, and restores misregulated splicing of IR and cTNT in a DM1 cell culture model. Importantly, suppression of r(CUG)(exp) RNA-induced toxicity in a DM1 Drosophila model was observed after treatment with ligand 3. These results suggest ligand 3 as a lead for the treatment of DM1.

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