Suppression of Mutant Protein Expression in SCA3 and SCA1 Mice Using a CAG Repeat-Targeting Antisense Oligonucleotide

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2019 Sep 6:17:601-614. doi: 10.1016/j.omtn.2019.07.004. Epub 2019 Jul 19.


Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (SCA3) and type 1 (SCA1) are dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disorders that are currently incurable. Both diseases are caused by a CAG-repeat expansion in exon 10 of the Ataxin-3 and exon 8 of the Ataxin-1 gene, respectively, encoding an elongated polyglutamine tract that confers toxic properties to the resulting proteins. We have previously shown lowering of the pathogenic polyglutamine protein in Huntington's disease mouse models using (CUG)7, a CAG repeat-targeting antisense oligonucleotide. Here we evaluated the therapeutic capacity of (CUG)7 for SCA3 and SCA1, in vitro in patient-derived cell lines and in vivo in representative mouse models. Repeated intracerebroventricular (CUG)7 administration resulted in a significant reduction of mutant Ataxin-3 and Ataxin-1 proteins throughout the brain of SCA3 and SCA1 mouse models, respectively. Furthermore, in both a SCA3 patient cell line and the MJD84.2 mouse model, (CUG)7 induced formation of a truncated Ataxin-3 protein species lacking the polyglutamine stretch, likely arising from (CUG)7-mediated exon 10 skipping. In contrast, skipping of exon 8 of Ataxin-1 did not significantly contribute to the Ataxin-1 protein reduction observed in (CUG)7-treated SCA1154Q/2Q mice. These findings support the therapeutic potential of a single CAG repeat-targeting AON for the treatment of multiple polyglutamine disorders.

Keywords: CAG repeat; SCA1; SCA3; antisense oligonucleotide; exon skip; polyglutamine disorders.