Fundamental differences in the equilibrium considerations for siRNA and antisense oligodeoxynucleotide design

Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Jun;36(11):3738-45. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkn266. Epub 2008 May 15.


Both siRNA and antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) inhibit the expression of a complementary gene. In this study, fundamental differences in the considerations for RNA interference and antisense ODNs are reported. In siRNA and antisense ODN databases, positive correlations are observed between the cost to open the mRNA target self-structure and the stability of the duplex to be formed, meaning the sites along the mRNA target with highest potential to form strong duplexes with antisense strands also have the greatest tendency to be involved in pre-existing structure. Efficient siRNA have less stable siRNA-target duplex stability than inefficient siRNA, but the opposite is true for antisense ODNs. It is, therefore, more difficult to avoid target self-structure in antisense ODN design. Self-structure stabilities of oligonucleotide and target correlate to the silencing efficacy of siRNA. Oligonucleotide self-structure correlations to efficacy of antisense ODNs, conversely, are insignificant. Furthermore, self-structure in the target appears to correlate with antisense ODN efficacy, but such that more effective antisense ODNs appear to target mRNA regions with greater self-structure. Therefore, different criteria are suggested for the design of efficient siRNA and antisense ODNs and the design of antisense ODNs is more challenging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Base Pairing
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense / chemistry*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering