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The therapeutic and research potentials of oligonucleotides (ONs) have been hampered in part by their inability to effectively escape endosomal compartments to reach their cytosolic and nuclear targets. Splice-switching ONs (SSOs) can be used with endosomolytic small molecule compounds to increase functional delivery. So far, development of these compounds has been hindered by a lack of high-resolution methods that can correlate SSO trafficking with SSO activity. Here we present in-depth characterization of two novel endosomolytic compounds by using a combination of microscopic and functional assays with high spatiotemporal resolution. This system allows the visualization of SSO trafficking, evaluation of endosomal membrane rupture, and quantitates SSO functional activity on a protein level in the presence of endosomolytic compounds. We confirm that the leakage of SSO into the cytosol occurs in parallel with the physical engorgement of LAMP1-positive late endosomes and lysosomes. We conclude that the new compounds interfere with SSO trafficking to the LAMP1-positive endosomal compartments while inducing endosomal membrane rupture and concurrent ON escape into the cytosol. The efficacy of these compounds advocates their use as novel, potent, and quick-acting transfection reagents for antisense ONs.

Original publication




Journal article


Commun Biol

Publication Date





Endosomes, Intracellular Membranes, Lysosomes, Oligonucleotides, Oligonucleotides, Antisense