Chemical modification and design of anti-miRNA oligonucleotides

Gene Ther. 2011 Dec;18(12):1111-20. doi: 10.1038/gt.2011.100. Epub 2011 Jul 14.


Antisense techniques have been employed for over 30 years to suppress expression of target RNAs. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a new class of small, non-coding, regulatory RNA molecules that widely impact gene regulation, differentiation and disease states in both plants and animals. Antisense techniques that employ synthetic oligonucleotides have been used to study miRNA function and some of these compounds may have potential as novel drug candidates to intervene in diseases where miRNAs contribute to the underlying pathophysiology. Anti-miRNA oligonucleotides (AMOs) appear to work primarily through a steric blocking mechanism of action; these compounds are synthetic reverse complements that tightly bind and inactivate the miRNA. A variety of chemical modifications can be used to improve the performance and potency of AMOs. In general, modifications that confer nuclease stability and increase binding affinity improve AMO performance. Chemical modifications and/or certain structural features of the AMO may also facilitate invasion into the miRNA-induced silencing complex. In particular, it is essential that the AMO binds with high affinity to the miRNA 'seed region', which spans bases 2-8 from the 5'-end of the miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Design
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • MicroRNAs / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Morpholinos / administration & dosage
  • Morpholinos / pharmacology
  • Oligonucleotides / pharmacology
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / chemical synthesis*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / chemistry
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Plant


  • MicroRNAs
  • Morpholinos
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Plant
  • locked nucleic acid