TitleSustained dystrophin expression induced by peptide-conjugated morpholino oligomers in the muscles of mdx mice.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsJearawiriyapaisarn, N, Moulton, HM, Buckley, B, Roberts, J, Sazani, P, Fucharoen, S, Iversen, PL, Kole, R
JournalMolecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy
Date Published2008 Sep
KeywordsPeptide Fragments

Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), containing arginine (R), 6-aminohexanoic acid (X), and/or beta-alanine (B) conjugated to phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMOs), enhance their delivery in cell culture. In this study, the potency, functional biodistribution, and toxicity of these conjugates were evaluated in vivo, in EGFP-654 transgenic mice that ubiquitously express the aberrantly spliced EGFP-654 pre-mRNA reporter. Correct splicing and enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) upregulation serve as a positive readout for peptide-PMO (PPMO) entry into cells and access to EGFP-654 pre-mRNA in the nucleus. Intraperitoneal injections of a series of PPMOs, A-N (12 mg/kg), administered once a day for four successive days resulted in splicing correction in numerous tissues. PPMO-B was highly potent in the heart, diaphragm, and quadriceps, which are key muscles in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We therefore investigated PPMO M23D-B, designed to force skipping of stop-codon containing dystrophin exon 23, in an mdx mouse model of the disease. Systemic delivery of M23D-B yielded persistent exon 23 skipping, yielding high and sustained dystrophin protein expression in body-wide muscles, including cardiac muscle, without detectable toxicity. The rescued dystrophin reduced serum creatinine kinase to near-wild-type levels, indicating improvement in muscle integrity. This is the first report of oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping and dystrophin protein induction in the heart of treated animals.