Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) hold great promise for therapeutic splice-switching correction in many genetic diseases and in particular for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), where AONs can be used to reframe the dystrophin transcript and give rise to a partially deleted but yet functional dystrophin protein. Many different chemistries of AONs can be used for splice switching modulation, and some of them have been evaluated in clinical trials for DMD. However, despite advances in AON chemistry and design, systemic use of AONs is limited due to poor tissue uptake, and sufficient therapeutic efficacy is difficult to achieve. Therefore, there is still a critical need to develop efficient AONs able to restore the expression of dystrophin in all relevant tissues and international efforts are currently on going to develop new compounds or alternative chemistries with higher therapeutic potential. Here, we describe the methods to evaluate the potency of antisense oligonucleotides, and in particular of tricyclo-DNA (tcDNA)-AONs, a novel class of AONs which displays unique pharmacological properties and unprecedented uptake in many tissues after systemic administration. We focus on the most widely used mouse model for DMD, the mdx mouse and detail methods to analyze the skipping of the mouse exon 23 both in vitro in H2K mdx cells and in vivo in the mdx mouse model.
Keywords: Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs); Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Exon skipping; Splice-switching approaches; Tricyclo-DNA.