Evaluation of 2'-Deoxy-2'-fluoro Antisense Oligonucleotides for Exon Skipping in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2015 Dec 1;4(12):e265. doi: 10.1038/mtna.2015.39.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe muscle wasting disorder typically caused by frame-shifting mutations in the DMD gene. Restoration of the reading frame would allow the production of a shorter but partly functional dystrophin protein as seen in Becker muscular dystrophy patients. This can be achieved with antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) that induce skipping of specific exons during pre-mRNA splicing. Different chemical modifications have been developed to improve AON properties. The 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro (2F) RNA modification is attractive for exon skipping due to its ability to recruit ILF2/3 proteins to the 2F/pre-mRNA duplex, which resulted in enhanced exon skipping in spinal muscular atrophy models. In this study, we examined the effect of two different 2'-substituted AONs (2'-F phosphorothioate (2FPS) and 2'-O-Me phosphorothioate (2OMePS)) on exon skipping in DMD cell and animal models. In human cell cultures, 2FPS AONs showed higher exon skipping levels than their isosequential 2OMePS counterparts. Interestingly, in the mdx mouse model, 2FPS was less efficient than 2OMePS and suggested safety issues as evidenced by increased spleen size and weight loss. Our results do not support a clinical application for 2FPS AON.