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Towards next generation antisense oligonucleotides: mesylphosphoramidate modification improves therapeutic index and duration of effect of gapmer antisense oligonucleotides
Nucleic Acids Research  (IF16.971),  Pub Date : 2021-08-20, DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkab718
Anderson B, Freestone G, Low A, et al.

Abstract
The PS modification enhances the nuclease stability and protein binding properties of gapmer antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and is one of very few modifications that support RNaseH1 activity. We evaluated the effect of introducing stereorandom and chiral mesyl-phosphoramidate (MsPA) linkages in the DNA gap and flanks of gapmer PS ASOs and characterized the effect of these linkages on RNA-binding, nuclease stability, protein binding, pro-inflammatory profile, antisense activity and toxicity in cells and in mice. We show that all PS linkages in a gapmer ASO can be replaced with MsPA without compromising chemical stability and RNA binding affinity but these designs reduced activity. However, replacing up to 5 PS in the gap with MsPA was well tolerated and replacing specific PS linkages at appropriate locations was able to greatly reduce both immune stimulation and cytotoxicity. The improved nuclease stability of MsPA over PS translated to significant improvement in the duration of ASO action in mice which was comparable to that of enhanced stabilized siRNA designs. Our work highlights the combination of PS and MsPA linkages as a next generation chemical platform for identifying ASO drugs with improved potency and therapeutic index, reduced pro-inflammatory effects and extended duration of effect.