One promising approach for the gene therapy of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is exon skipping. When thinking of possible intervention on human, it is very crucial to identify the most appropriate antisense sequences able to provide the highest possible skipping efficiency. In this article, we compared the exon 51 skipping activity of 10 different antisense molecules, raised against splice junctions and/or exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs), expressed as part of the U1 small nuclear RNA (snRNA). The effectiveness of each construct was tested in human DMD myoblasts carrying the deletion of exons 48-50, which can be treated with skipping of exon 51. Our results show that the highest skipping activity and dystrophin rescue is achieved upon expression of a U1 snRNA-derived antisense molecule targeting exon 51 splice sites in combination with an internal exon sequence. The efficacy of this molecule was further proven on an exon 45-50 deletion background, utilizing patient's fibroblasts transdifferentiated into myoblasts. In this system, we showed that the selected antisense was able to produce 50% skipping of exon 51.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Marina Mora and Telethon Neuromuscular Biobank (Istituto Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy) for providing 8962 Δ48–50 cells, Carlo Manzoni (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy) for providing skin biopsies, Akio Masuda (Division of Neurogenetics Center for Neurological Diseases and Cancer, Nagoya University, Japan) for providing pcDNA3.1-Luc vector, and Maurizia Caruso (CNR Istituto Neurobiologia e Medicina Molecolare, Rome, Italy) for providing pCCL-MyoD; we also thank Marcella Marchioni (CNR, Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari, Rome, Italy) for technical help. This work was partially supported by grants from: Telethon (GGP07049), Parent Project Italia, EU project SIROCCO (LSHG-CT-2006-037900), ESF project “NuRNASu” and PRIN. Authors declare no conflict of interest.