The influence of antisense oligonucleotide length on dystrophin exon skipping

Mol Ther. 2007 Jan;15(1):157-66. doi: 10.1038/


Antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) can be used to redirect dystrophin pre-messenger RNA (mRNA) processing, to remove selected exons from the mature dystrophin mRNA, to overcome nonsense mutations, and/or restore the reading frame. Redundancy within the dystrophin protein allows some domains to be removed without seriously compromising function. One of the challenges for splicing blockade is to design AOs that efficiently remove targeted exons across the dystrophin pre-mRNA. AOs are initially designed to anneal to the more obvious motifs implicated in the splicing process, such as acceptor or donor splice sites and in silico predicted exonic splicing enhancers. The AOs are evaluated for their ability to induce targeted exon skipping after transfection into cultured myoblasts. Although no single motif has been implicated in the consistent induction of exon skipping, the length of the AO has emerged as an important parameter in designing compounds that redirect dystrophin pre-mRNA processing. We present data from in vitro studies in murine and human cells showing that appropriately designed AOs of 25-31 nucleotides are generally more effective at inducing exon skipping than shorter counterparts. However, there appears to be an upper limit in optimal length, which may have to be established on a case-by-case basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Dystrophin / genetics*
  • Exons / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Dystrophin
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger