Systemic administration of optimized aptamer-siRNA chimeras promotes regression of PSMA-expressing tumors

Nat Biotechnol. 2009 Sep;27(9):839-49. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1560. Epub 2009 Aug 23.


Prostate cancer cells expressing prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) have been targeted with RNA aptamer-small interfering (si)RNA chimeras, but therapeutic efficacy in vivo was demonstrated only with intratumoral injection. Clinical translation of this approach will require chimeras that are effective when administered systemically and are amenable to chemical synthesis. To these ends, we enhanced the silencing activity and specificity of aptamer-siRNA chimeras by incorporating modifications that enable more efficient processing of the siRNA by the cellular machinery. These included adding 2-nucleotide 3'-overhangs and optimizing the thermodynamic profile and structure of the duplex to favor processing of the siRNA guide strand. We also truncated the aptamer portion of the chimeras to facilitate large-scale chemical synthesis. The optimized chimeras resulted in pronounced regression of PSMA-expressing tumors in athymic mice after systemic administration. Anti-tumor activity was further enhanced by appending a polyethylene glycol moiety, which increased the chimeras' circulating half-life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / blood*
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / administration & dosage*
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Growth Processes / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / administration & dosage*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • polo-like kinase 1
  • FOLH1 protein, human
  • Glutamate Carboxypeptidase II