U1 adaptors for the therapeutic knockdown of the oncogene pim-1 kinase in glioblastoma

Nucleic Acid Ther. 2013 Aug;23(4):264-72. doi: 10.1089/nat.2012.0407. Epub 2013 Jun 1.


U1 small nuclear interference (U1i) has recently been described as a novel gene silencing mechanism. U1i employs short oligonucleotides, so-called U1 adaptors, for specific gene knockdown, expanding the field of current silencing strategies that are primarily based on RNA interference (RNAi) or antisense. Despite the potential of U1 adaptors as therapeutic agents, their in vivo application has not yet been studied. Here we explore U1i by analyzing U1 adaptor-mediated silencing of the oncogene Pim-1 in glioblastoma cells. We have generated Pim-1-specific U1 adaptors comprising DNA, locked nucleic acids (LNA), and 2'-O-Methyl RNA and demonstrate their ability to induce a Pim-1 knockdown, leading to antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects. For the therapeutic in vivo application of U1 adaptors, we establish their complexation with branched low molecular weight polyethylenimine (PEI). Upon injection of nanoscale PEI/adaptor complexes into subcutaneous glioblastoma xenografts in mice, we observed the knockdown of Pim-1 that resulted in the suppression of tumor growth. The absence of hepatotoxicity and immune stimulation also demonstrates the biocompatibility of PEI/adaptor complexes. We conclude that U1i represents an alternative to RNAi for the therapeutic silencing of pathologically upregulated genes and demonstrate the functional relevance of Pim-1 oncogene knockdown in glioblastoma. We furthermore introduce nanoscale PEI/adaptor complexes as efficient and safe for in vivo application, thus offering novel therapeutic approaches based on U1i-mediated gene knockdown.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / genetics
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / administration & dosage
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotides / administration & dosage
  • Oligonucleotides / chemical synthesis
  • Oligonucleotides / genetics*
  • Polyethyleneimine / administration & dosage
  • Polyethyleneimine / chemistry
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / genetics
  • Tumor Burden / genetics


  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides
  • Oligonucleotides
  • locked nucleic acid
  • Polyethyleneimine
  • PIM1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1