Antisense RNA sequences modulating the ataxin-1 message: Molecular model of gene therapy for spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a dominant-acting unstable trinucleotide repeat disease

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Abstract

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is a dominant inherited disease caused by expanded trinucleotide repeats resulting in an increased polyglutamine tract in the gene product. As a potential therapeutic approach for SCA1, we tested antisense RNAs targeting two regions of the ataxin-1 message. Single-stranded regions around the translational initiation site and the intron 8 splice donor site of the ataxin-1 message were identified by computer-assisted RNA secondary structure prediction. Plasmids were generated to contain a 254-bp antisense sequence spanning the translation initiation site (pLasBDini) or a 317-bp sequence spanning the intron 8 splice donor site (pLasBDei) of the ataxin-1 message. These plasmids were transfected into Chinese hamster ovary cells engineered to express either expanded or unexpanded ataxin-1 message and protein. Reduced levels of mutant ataxin-1 message (82 CAG repeats), wild-type ataxin-1 message (30 CAG repeats), and ataxin-1 protein were observed by Northern and Western blot analyses in pLasBDini-transfected clones. pLasBDei-transfected 293 cells exhibited a shift in ataxin-1 message to a size several kilobases longer than that of the natural message. Reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction assays demonstrated the retention of message spanning the intron 8 splice acceptor and the inability to amplify sequences between exons 8 and 9, implying that normal splicing of intron 8 had been interrupted. We conclude that antisense RNAs were effective in reducing or modifying ataxin-1 messages in transfected cells, and may be an effective genetic strategy for therapy of SCA1 and similar dominant-acting neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-734
Number of pages12
JournalCell transplantation
Volume17
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

Keywords

  • Ataxia
  • Cerebellum
  • Gene therapy
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1

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