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  • Peptide nanoparticle delivery of charge-neutral splice-switching morpholino oligonucleotides.

    17 October 2018

    Oligonucleotide analogs have provided novel therapeutics targeting various disorders. However, their poor cellular uptake remains a major obstacle for their clinical development. Negatively charged oligonucleotides, such as 2'-O-Methyl RNA and locked nucleic acids have in recent years been delivered successfully into cells through complex formation with cationic polymers, peptides, liposomes, or similar nanoparticle delivery systems. However, due to the lack of electrostatic interactions, this promising delivery method has been unsuccessful to date using charge-neutral oligonucleotide analogs. We show here that lipid-functionalized cell-penetrating peptides can be efficiently exploited for cellular transfection of the charge-neutral oligonucleotide analog phosphorodiamidate morpholino. The lipopeptides form complexes with splice-switching phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligonucleotide and can be delivered into clinically relevant cell lines that are otherwise difficult to transfect while retaining biological activity. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show delivery through complex formation of biologically active charge-neutral oligonucleotides by cationic peptides.

  • Novel target for peptide-based imaging and treatment of brain tumors.

    17 October 2018

    Malignant gliomas are associated with high mortality due to infiltrative growth, recurrence, and malignant progression. Even with the most efficient therapy combinations, median survival of the glioblastoma multiforme (grade 4) patients is less than 15 months. Therefore, new treatment approaches are urgently needed. We describe here identification of a novel homing peptide that recognizes tumor vessels and invasive tumor satellites in glioblastomas. We demonstrate successful brain tumor imaging using radiolabeled peptide in whole-body SPECT/CT imaging. Peptide-targeted delivery of chemotherapeutics prolonged the lifespan of mice bearing invasive brain tumors and significantly reduced the number of tumor satellites compared with the free drug. Moreover, we identified mammary-derived growth inhibitor (MDGI/H-FABP/FABP3) as the interacting partner for our peptide on brain tumor tissue. MDGI was expressed in human brain tumor specimens in a grade-dependent manner and its expression positively correlated with the histologic grade of the tumor, suggesting MDGI as a novel marker for malignant gliomas.

  • Splice-correction strategies for treatment of X-linked agammaglobulinemia.

    17 October 2018

    X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) is a primary immunodeficiency disease caused by mutations in the gene coding for Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK). Deficiency of BTK leads to a developmental block in B cell differentiation; hence, the patients essentially lack antibody-producing plasma cells and are susceptible to various infections. A substantial portion of the mutations in BTK results in splicing defects, consequently preventing the formation of protein-coding mRNA. Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are therapeutic compounds that have the ability to modulate pre-mRNA splicing and alter gene expression. The potential of ASOs has been exploited for a few severe diseases, both in pre-clinical and clinical studies. Recently, advances have also been made in using ASOs as a personalized therapy for XLA. Splice-correction of BTK has been shown to be feasible for different mutations in vitro, and a recent proof-of-concept study demonstrated the feasibility of correcting splicing and restoring BTK both ex vivo and in vivo in a humanized bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-transgenic mouse model. This review summarizes the advances in splice correction, as a personalized medicine for XLA, and outlines the promises and challenges of using this technology as a curative long-term treatment option.

  • Exosomes participate in the alteration of muscle homeostasis during lipid-induced insulin resistance in mice

    17 October 2018

    © The Author(s) 2014. Aims/hypothesis Exosomes released from cells can transfer both functional proteins and RNAs between cells. In this study we tested the hypothesis that muscle cells might transmit specific signals during lipid-induced insulin resistance through the exosomal route. Methods Exosomes were collected from quadriceps muscles of C57Bl/6 mice fed for 16 weeks with either a standard chow diet (SD) or an SD enriched with 20% palm oil (HP) and from C2C12 cells exposed to 0.5 mmol/l palmitate (EXO-Post Palm), oleate (EXO-Post Oleate) or BSA (EXO-Post BSA). Results HP-fed mice were obese and insulin resistant and had altered insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation in skeletal muscle (SkM). They also had reduced expression of Myod1 and Myog and increased levels of Ccnd1 mRNA, indicating that palm oil had a deep impact on SkM homeostasis in addition to insulin resistance. HP-fed mouse SkM secreted more exosomes than SD-fed mouse SkM. This was reproduced in-vitro using C2C12 cells pre-treated with palmitate, the most abundant saturated fatty acid of palm oil. Exosomes from HP-fed mice, EXO-Post Palm and EXO-Post Oleate induced myoblast proliferation and modified the expressions of genes involved in the cell cycle and muscle differentiation but did not alter insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation. Lipidomic analyses showed that exosomes from palmitate-treated cells were enriched in palmitate, indicating that exosomes likely transfer the deleterious effect of palm oil between muscle cells by transferring lipids. Muscle exosomes were incorporated into various tissues in vivo, including the pancreas and liver, suggesting that SkM could transfer specific signals through the exosomal route to key metabolic tissues. Conclusions/interpretation Exosomes act as ‘paracrine-like’ signals and modify muscle homeostasis during high-fat diets.

  • Self-Assembly into Nanoparticles Is Essential for Receptor Mediated Uptake of Therapeutic Antisense Oligonucleotides.

    17 October 2018

    Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) have the potential to revolutionize medicine due to their ability to manipulate gene function for therapeutic purposes. ASOs are chemically modified and/or incorporated within nanoparticles to enhance their stability and cellular uptake, however, a major challenge is the poor understanding of their uptake mechanisms, which would facilitate improved ASO designs with enhanced activity and reduced toxicity. Here, we study the uptake mechanism of three therapeutically relevant ASOs (peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino (PPMO), 2'Omethyl phosphorothioate (2'OMe), and phosphorothioated tricyclo DNA (tcDNA) that have been optimized to induce exon skipping in models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We show that PPMO and tcDNA have high propensity to spontaneously self-assemble into nanoparticles. PPMO forms micelles of defined size and their net charge (zeta potential) is dependent on the medium and concentration. In biomimetic conditions and at low concentrations, PPMO obtains net negative charge and its uptake is mediated by class A scavenger receptor subtypes (SCARAs) as shown by competitive inhibition and RNAi silencing experiments in vitro. In vivo, the activity of PPMO was significantly decreased in SCARA1 knockout mice compared to wild-type animals. Additionally, we show that SCARA1 is involved in the uptake of tcDNA and 2'OMe as shown by competitive inhibition and colocalization experiments. Surface plasmon resonance binding analysis to SCARA1 demonstrated that PPMO and tcDNA have higher binding profiles to the receptor compared to 2'OMe. These results demonstrate receptor-mediated uptake for a range of therapeutic ASO chemistries, a mechanism that is dependent on their self-assembly into nanoparticles.

  • How much dystrophin is enough: the physiological consequences of different levels of dystrophin in the mdx mouse.

    17 October 2018

    Splice modulation therapy has shown great clinical promise in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, resulting in the production of dystrophin protein. Despite this, the relationship between restoring dystrophin to established dystrophic muscle and its ability to induce clinically relevant changes in muscle function is poorly understood. In order to robustly evaluate functional improvement, we used in situ protocols in the mdx mouse to measure muscle strength and resistance to eccentric contraction-induced damage. Here, we modelled the treatment of muscle with pre-existing dystrophic pathology using antisense oligonucleotides conjugated to a cell-penetrating peptide. We reveal that 15% homogeneous dystrophin expression is sufficient to protect against eccentric contraction-induced injury. In addition, we demonstrate a >40% increase in specific isometric force following repeated administrations. Strikingly, we show that changes in muscle strength are proportional to dystrophin expression levels. These data define the dystrophin restoration levels required to slow down or prevent disease progression and improve overall muscle function once a dystrophic environment has been established in the mdx mouse model.

  • From sauropsids to mammals and back: New approaches to comparative cortical development.

    17 October 2018

    Evolution of the mammalian neocortex (isocortex) has been a persisting problem in neurobiology. While recent studies have attempted to understand the evolutionary expansion of the human neocortex from rodents, similar approaches have been used to study the changes between reptiles, birds, and mammals. We review here findings from the past decades on the development, organization, and gene expression patterns in various extant species. This review aims to compare cortical cell numbers and neuronal cell types to the elaboration of progenitor populations and their proliferation in these species. Several progenitors, such as the ventricular radial glia, the subventricular intermediate progenitors, and the subventricular (outer) radial glia, have been identified but the contribution of each to cortical layers and cell types through specific lineages, their possible roles in determining brain size or cortical folding, are not yet understood. Across species, larger, more diverse progenitors relate to cortical size and cell diversity. The challenge is to relate the radial and tangential expansion of the neocortex to the changes in the proliferative compartments during mammalian evolution and with the changes in gene expression and lineages evident in various sectors of the developing brain. We also review the use of recent lineage tracing and transcriptomic approaches to revisit theories and to provide novel understanding of molecular processes involved in specification of cortical regions.

  • Tangential Cell Movements During Early Telencephalic Development

    17 October 2018

    © Oxford University Press, 2013. This chapter discusses the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which neurons are generated from the ventricular zone in the forebrain and migrate to their destinations in the cerebral cortex. Topics covered include radial migration, tangential migration, labelling techniques, and Cajal-Retzius cells. It is argued that the complexity added to the initial model of cortical development comes from the abundant populations recently discovered that use tangential migration. In turn, this reflects the intricate pattern of tangential movements during early telencephalic development. Although it was initially believed to be of little importance, this type of migration is fundamental during the earliest developmental stages.

  • Functional Properties of Mitochondria in the Type-1 Cell and Their Role in Oxygen Sensing.

    17 October 2018

    The identity of the oxygen sensor in arterial chemoreceptors has been the subject of much speculation. One of the oldest hypotheses is that oxygen is sensed through oxidative phosphorylation. There is a wealth of data demonstrating that arterial chemoreceptors are excited by inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation. These compounds mimic the effects of hypoxia inhibiting TASK1/3 potassium channels causing membrane depolarisation calcium influx and neurosecretion. The TASK channels of Type-I cells are also sensitive to cytosolic MgATP. The existence of a metabolic signalling pathway in Type-1 cells is thus established; the contentious issue is whether this pathway is also used for acute oxygen sensing. The main criticism is that because cytochrome oxidase has a high affinity for oxygen (P50 ≈ 0.2 mmHg) mitochondrial metabolism should be insensitive to physiological hypoxia. This argument is however predicated on the assumption that chemoreceptor mitochondria are analogous to those of other tissues. We have however obtained new evidence to support the hypothesis that type-1 cell mitochondria are not like those of other cells in that they have an unusually low affinity for oxygen (Mills E, Jobsis FF, J Neurophysiol 35(4):405-428, 1972; Duchen MR, Biscoe TJ, J Physiol 450:13-31, 1992a). Our data confirm that mitochondrial membrane potential, NADH, electron transport and cytochrome oxidase activity in the Type-1 cell are all highly sensitive to hypoxia. These observations not only provide exceptionally strong support for the metabolic hypothesis but also reveal an unknown side of mitochondrial behaviour.