Restoration of SMN function: delivery of a trans-splicing RNA re-directs SMN2 pre-mRNA splicing.

Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211-7310, USA.
Molecular Therapy (Impact Factor: 6.43). 09/2007; 15(8):1471-8. DOI: 10.1038/
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by loss of survival motor neuron-1 (SMN1). A nearly identical copy gene called SMN2 is present in all SMA patients; however SMN2 produces low levels of functional protein due to alternative splicing. Recently a therapeutic approach has been developed referred to as trans-splicing. Conceptually, this strategy relies upon pre-messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) splicing occurring between two separate molecules: (i) the endogenous target RNA and (ii) the therapeutic RNA that provides the correct RNA sequence via a trans-splicing event. SMN trans-splicing RNAs were initially examined and expressed from a plasmid-backbone and shown to re-direct splicing from a SMN2 mini-gene as well as from endogenous transcripts. Subsequently, recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors were developed that expressed and delivered trans-splicing RNAs to SMA patient fibroblasts. In the severe SMA patient fibroblasts, SMN2 splicing was redirected via trans-splicing to produce increased levels of full-length SMN mRNA and total SMN protein levels. Finally, small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) assembly, a critical function of SMN, was restored to SMN-deficient SMA fibroblasts following treatment with the trans-splicing vector. Together these results demonstrate that the alternatively spliced SMN2 exon 7 is a tractable target for replacement by trans-splicing.

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