Towards a therapy for Angelman syndrome by targeting a long non-coding RNA

Nature. 2015 Feb 19;518(7539):409-12. doi: 10.1038/nature13975. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Angelman syndrome is a single-gene disorder characterized by intellectual disability, developmental delay, behavioural uniqueness, speech impairment, seizures and ataxia. It is caused by maternal deficiency of the imprinted gene UBE3A, encoding an E3 ubiquitin ligase. All patients carry at least one copy of paternal UBE3A, which is intact but silenced by a nuclear-localized long non-coding RNA, UBE3A antisense transcript (UBE3A-ATS). Murine Ube3a-ATS reduction by either transcription termination or topoisomerase I inhibition has been shown to increase paternal Ube3a expression. Despite a clear understanding of the disease-causing event in Angelman syndrome and the potential to harness the intact paternal allele to correct the disease, no gene-specific treatment exists for patients. Here we developed a potential therapeutic intervention for Angelman syndrome by reducing Ube3a-ATS with antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs). ASO treatment achieved specific reduction of Ube3a-ATS and sustained unsilencing of paternal Ube3a in neurons in vitro and in vivo. Partial restoration of UBE3A protein in an Angelman syndrome mouse model ameliorated some cognitive deficits associated with the disease. Although additional studies of phenotypic correction are needed, we have developed a sequence-specific and clinically feasible method to activate expression of the paternal Ube3a allele.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Angelman Syndrome / complications
  • Angelman Syndrome / genetics*
  • Angelman Syndrome / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Gene Silencing / drug effects
  • Genomic Imprinting / genetics
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / complications
  • Memory Disorders / genetics
  • Memory Disorders / therapy
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use*
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Antisense / antagonists & inhibitors
  • RNA, Antisense / deficiency
  • RNA, Antisense / genetics
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Time Factors
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Ube3a protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases