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A side-by-side comparison of peptide-delivered antisense antibiotics employing different nucleotide mimics

Ghosh C, Popella L, Dhamodharan V, Jung J, Dietzsch J, Barquist L, Höbartner C, Vogel J
RNA. 2024 Feb 27:rna.079969.124. doi: 10.1261/rna.079969.124. Online ahead of print
Antisense oligomer (ASO)-based antibiotics that target mRNAs of essential bacterial genes have great potential for counteracting antimicrobial resistance and for precision microbiome editing. To date, the development of such antisense antibiotics has primarily focused on using phosphorodiamidate morpholino (PMO) and peptide nucleic acid (PNA) backbones, largely ignoring the growing number of chemical modalities that have spurred the success of ASO-based human therapy. Here, we directly compare the activities of seven chemically distinct 10mer ASOs, all designed to target the essential gene acpP upon delivery with a KFF-peptide carrier into Salmonella. Our systematic analysis of PNA, PMO, phosphorothioate-modified DNA (PTO), 2'-methylated RNA (RNA-OMe), 2'-methoxyethylated RNA (RNA-MOE), 2'-fluorinated RNA (RNA-F) and 2'-4'-locked RNA (LNA) is based on a variety of in vitro and in vivo methods to evaluate ASO uptake, target pairing and inhibition of bacterial growth. Our data show that only PNA and PMO are efficiently delivered by the KFF peptide into Salmonella to inhibit bacterial growth. Nevertheless, the strong target binding affinity and in vitro translational repression activity of LNA and RNA-MOE make them promising modalities for antisense antibiotics that will require the identification of an effective carrier.
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