Antisense Oligonucleotide Mediated Splice Correction of a Deep Intronic Mutation in OPA1

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2016 Nov 22;5(11):e390. doi: 10.1038/mtna.2016.93.


Inherited optic neuropathies (ION) present an important cause of blindness in the European working-age population. Recently we reported the discovery of four independent families with deep intronic mutations in the main inherited optic neuropathies gene OPA1. These deep intronic mutations cause mis-splicing of the OPA1 pre-messenger-RNA transcripts by creating cryptic acceptor splice sites. As a rescue strategy we sought to prevent mis-splicing of the mutant pre-messenger-RNA by applying 2'O-methyl-antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) with a full-length phosphorothioate backbone that target the cryptic acceptor splice sites and the predicted novel branch point created by the deep intronic mutations, respectively. Transfection of patient-derived primary fibroblasts with these AONs induced correct splicing of the mutant pre-messenger-RNA in a time and concentration dependent mode of action, as detected by pyrosequencing of informative heterozygous variants. The treatment showed strong rescue effects (~55%) using the cryptic acceptor splice sites targeting AON and moderate rescue (~16%) using the branch point targeting AON. The highest efficacy of Splice correction could be observed 4 days after treatment however, significant effects were still seen 14 days post-transfection. Western blot analysis revealed increased amounts of OPA1 protein with maximum amounts at ~3 days post-treatment. In summary, we provide the first mutation-specific in vitro rescue strategy for OPA1 deficiency using synthetic AONs.