From antisense RNA to RNA modification: therapeutic potential of RNA-based technologies

  • Therapeutic oligonucleotides interact with a target RNA via Watson-Crick complementarity, affecting RNA-processing reactions such as mRNA degradation, pre-mRNA splicing, or mRNA translation. Since they were proposed decades ago, several have been approved for clinical use to correct genetic mutations. Three types of mechanisms of action (MoA) have emerged: RNase H-dependent degradation of mRNA directed by short chimeric antisense oligonucleotides (gapmers), correction of splicing defects via splice-modulation oligonucleotides, and interference of gene expression via short interfering RNAs (siRNAs). These antisense-based mechanisms can tackle several genetic disorders in a gene-specific manner, primarily by gene downregulation (gapmers and siRNAs) or splicing defects correction (exon-skipping oligos). Still, the challenge remains for the repair at the single-nucleotide level. The emerging field of epitranscriptomics and RNA modifications shows the enormous possibilities for recoding the transcriptome and repairing genetic mutations with high specificity while harnessing endogenously expressed RNA processing machinery. Some of these techniques have been proposed as alternatives to CRISPR-based technologies, where the exogenous gene-editing machinery needs to be delivered and expressed in the human cells to generate permanent (DNA) changes with unknown consequences. Here, we review the current FDA-approved antisense MoA (emphasizing some enabling technologies that contributed to their success) and three novel modalities based on post-transcriptional RNA modifications with therapeutic potential, including ADAR (Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA)-mediated RNA editing, targeted pseudouridylation, and 2′-O-methylation.

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Author:Hironori Adachi, Martin HengesbachORCiDGND, Yi-Tao Yu, Pedro Morais
Parent Title (English):Biomedicines
Place of publication:Basel
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/05/14
Date of first Publication:2021/05/14
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/08/09
Tag:2′-O-methylation; ADAR; RNA modification; antisense technology; epitranscriptomics; gapmers; pseudouridylation; siRNAs; splice-modulating oligonucleotides
Issue:5, art. 550
Page Number:26
First Page:1
Last Page:26
Institutes:Biochemie, Chemie und Pharmazie
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0