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Hairpin extensions enhance the efficacy of mycolyl transferase-specific antisense oligonucleotides targeting Mycobacterium tuberculosis

  • Author(s): Harth, Gunter
  • Zamecnik, Paul C.
  • Tabatadze, David
  • Pierson, Katherine
  • Horwitz, Marcus A.
  • et al.

We have investigated the efficacy of modifying gene-specific antisense phosphorothioate oligodeoxyribonucleotides (PS-ODNs) by the addition of 5' and 3' hairpin extensions. As a model system, we have targeted the Mycobacterium tuberculosis 30/32-kDa mycolyl transferase protein complex genes encoding three highly related enzymes (antigens 85 A, B, and Q. Whereas the addition of a hairpin extension at only one end of the PS-ODNs did not improve their inhibitory capacity, the addition of hairpin extensions at both ends enhanced their capacity to inhibit M. tuberculosis multiplication in comparison with unmodified PS-ODNs. A combination of three 5'-, 3'-hairpin-modified PS-ODNs (HPS-ODNs) targeting each of the three mycolyl transferase transcripts inhibited bacterial growth in broth culture by approximate to 1.75 log units (P = 90%; caused approximate to 90% reduction in mycolyl transferase expression; and increased bacterial sensitivity to isoniazid by 8-fold. The growth-inhibitory effect of the HPS-ODNs was gene-specific. Mismatched HPS-ODNs had no growth-inhibitory capacity. This study demonstrates that 5'- and 3'-HPS-ODNs are highly efficacious against M. tuberculosis and supports the further development of antisense technology as a therapeutic modality against tuberculosis.

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