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J Biol Chem. 1993 Jul 5;268(19):14514-22.

Evaluation of 2'-modified oligonucleotides containing 2'-deoxy gaps as antisense inhibitors of gene expression.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, California 92008.


We have used a previously described 17-mer phosphorothioate (Monia, B.P., Johnston, J.F., Ecker, D. J., Zounes, M.A., Lima, W.F., and Freier, S.M. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 19954-19962) for structure-function analysis of 2'-sugar modifications including 2'-O-methyl, 2'-O-propyl, 2'-O-pentyl, and 2'-fluoro. These modifications were analyzed for hybridization affinity to complementary RNA and for antisense activity against the Ha-ras oncogene in cells using a highly sensitive transactivation reporter gene system. Hybridization analysis demonstrated that all of the 2'-modified oligonucleotides hybridized with greater affinity to RNA than an unmodified 2'-deoxy oligonucleotide with the rank order of affinity being 2'-fluoro > 2'-O-methyl > 2'-O-propyl > 2'-O-pentyl > 2'-deoxy. Evaluation of antisense activities of uniformly 2'-modified oligonucleotides revealed that these compounds were completely ineffective in inhibiting Ha-ras gene expression. Activity was restored if the compound contained a stretch of at least five 2'-deoxy residues. This minimum deoxy length correlated perfectly with the minimum length required for efficient RNase H activation in vitro using partially purified mammalian RNase H enzyme. These chimeric 2'-modified/deoxy phosphorothioates displayed greater antisense potencies in inhibiting Ha-ras gene expression, compared with the unmodified uniform deoxy phosphorothioate. Furthermore, antisense potency correlated directly with affinity of a given 2' modification for it's complementary RNA. These results demonstrate the importance of target affinity in the action of antisense oligonucleotides and of RNase H as a mechanism by which these compounds exert their effects.

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