Background: We previously described the use of tailed oligonucleotides as a means of reprogramming alternative pre-mRNA splicing in vitro and in vivo. The tailed oligonucleotides that were used interfere with splicing because they contain a portion complementary to sequences immediately upstream of the target 5' splice site combined with a non-hybridizing 5' tail carrying binding sites for the hnRNP A1/A2 proteins. In the present study, we have tested the inhibitory activity of RNA oligonucleotides carrying different tail structures.
Results: We show that an oligonucleotide with a 5' tail containing the human beta-globin branch site sequence inhibits the use of the 5' splice site of Bcl-xL, albeit less efficiently than a tail containing binding sites for the hnRNP A1/A2 proteins. A branch site-containing tail positioned at the 3' end of the oligonucleotide also elicited splicing inhibition but not as efficiently as a 5' tail. The interfering activity of a 3' tail was improved by adding a 5' splice site sequence next to the branch site sequence. A 3' tail carrying a Y-shaped branch structure promoted similar splicing interference. The inclusion of branch site or 5' splice site sequences in the Y-shaped 3' tail further improved splicing inhibition.
Conclusion: Our in vitro results indicate that a variety of tail architectures can be used to elicit splicing interference at low nanomolar concentrations, thereby broadening the scope and the potential impact of this antisense technology.