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Nat Biotechnol. 1998 Dec;16(13):1343-6.

Stable and inheritable changes in genotype and phenotype of albino melanocytes induced by an RNA-DNA oligonucleotide.

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Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology, Jefferson Molecular Institute of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, and Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Experimental strategies have been developed to correct point mutations using chimeric oligonucleotides composed of RNA and DNA. We used these RNA-DNA oligonucleotides to correct a point mutation in mouse tyrosinase, a key enzyme for melanin synthesis and pigmentation. Melanocytes derived from albino mice contain a homozygous point mutation (TGT-->TCT) in the tyrosinase gene, resulting in an amino acid change from Cys-->Ser. Correction of this point mutation results in the restoration of tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis, thus changing the pigmentation of the cells. Upon transfection of the RNA-DNA oligonucleotide to albino melanocytes, we detected black-pigmented cells and isolated multiple single clones. All black-pigmented clones exhibited a correction of the point mutation in a single allele of the tyrosinase gene. A full-length tyrosinase was detected by an antityrosinase antibody, and the enzymatic activity was restored in all converted black-pigmented clones. Only degraded fragments were detected in albino cells due to proteolytic cleavage of mutant tyrosinase. The phenotype and genotype of converted black-pigmented clones was stable. These results demonstrate a permanent and stable gene correction by the RNA-DNA oligonucleotide at the level of genomic sequence, protein, and phenotypic change by clonal analysis.

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