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An anti-sense oligonucleotide efficiently suppresses splicing of an alternative exon in vascular smooth muscle in vivo

Damacena de Angelis C, Meddeb M, Chen N, Fisher SA
Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2024 Jan 26. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00745.2023. Online ahead of print
Targeting alternative exons for therapeutic gain has been achieved in a few instances and potentially could be applied more broadly. The Myosin Phosphatase (MP) enzyme is a critical hub upon which signals converge to regulate vessel tone. Alternative exon 24 of myosin phosphatase regulatory subunit (Mypt1 E24) is an ideal target as toggling between the two isoforms sets smooth muscle sensitivity to vasodilators such as nitric oxide (NO). This study aimed to develop a gene-based therapy to suppress splicing of Mypt1 E24 thereby switching MP enzyme to the NO-responsive isoform. CRISPR/Cas9 constructs were effective at editing of Mypt1 E24 in vitro, however targeting of vascular smooth muscle in vivo with AAV9 was inefficient. In contrast an octo-guanidine conjugated anti-sense oligonucleotide targeting the 5' splice site of Mypt1 E24 was highly efficient in vivo. It reduced the percent splicing inclusion of Mypt1 E24 from 80 to 10% in mesenteric arteries. The maximal and half-maximal effects occurred at 12.5 and 6.25 mg/kg, respectively. The effect persisted for at least one month without toxicity. This highly effective splice blocking anti-sense oligonucleotide could be developed as a novel therapy to reverse vascular dysfunction common to diseases such as hypertension and heart failure.
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