You are here

Understanding Antisense Oligonucleotide Efficiency in Inhibiting Prokaryotic Gene Expression

Story S, Bhaduri S, Ganguly S, Dakarapu R, Wicks SL, Bhadra J, Kwange S, Arya DP
ACS Infect Dis. 2024 Feb 22. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.3c00645. Online ahead of print
Oligonucleotides offer a unique opportunity for sequence specific regulation of gene expression in bacteria. A fundamental question to address is the choice of oligonucleotide, given the large number of options available. Different modifications varying in RNA binding affinities and cellular uptake are available but no comprehensive comparisons have been performed. Herein, the efficiency of blocking expression of β-galactosidase (β-Gal) in E. coli was evaluated utilizing different antisense oligomers (ASOs). Fluorescein (FAM)-labeled oligomers were used to understand their differences in bacterial uptake. Flow cytometry analysis revealed significant differences in uptake, with high fluorescence seen in cells treated with FAM-labeled peptidic nucleic acid (PNA), phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligonucleotide (PMO) and phosphorothioate (PS) oligomers, and low fluorescence observed in cells treated with phosphodiester (PO) oligomers. Thermal denaturation (Tm) of oligomer:RNA duplexes and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) studies reveal that ASO binding to target RNA demonstrates a good correlation between Tm and Kd values. There was no correlation between Kd values and reduction of β-Gal activity in bacterial cells. However, cell-free translation assays demonstrated a direct relationship between Kd values and inhibition of gene expression by antisense oligomers, with tight binding oligomers such as LNA being the most efficient. Membrane active compounds such as polymyxin B and A22 further improved the cellular uptake of FAM-PNA and FAM-PS oligomers in wild-type E. coli cells. PNA and PMO were most effective in cellular uptake and reducing β-Gal activity as compared to oligomers with PS or those with PO linkages. Overall, cell uptake of the oligomers is shown as the key determinant in predicting their differences in bacterial antisense inhibition, and the RNA affinity is the key determinant in inhibition of gene expression in cell free systems.
Organism or Cell Type: 
E. coli