The conformationally-locked carbocyclic nucleosides carbaLNA ("jcLNA") (Gagnon et al., Biochemistry, 2010, 49, 10166; Srivastava et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2007, 129, 8362; Xu et al., J. Org. Chem., 2009, 74, 6534; Zhou and Chattopadhyaya, J. Org. Chem., 2010, 75, 2341; Zhou et al., J. Org. Chem., 2009, 74, 118) are chemically engineered by fusing a carbocyclic ring at the C2' to C4' chiral centres in a stereospecific manner at the alpha-face of the pentose-sugar of the native nucleosides. The benefit of the chemically-modified oligonucleotides with the jcLNA scaffold has been shown to be their uniquely enhanced nuclease resistance in the blood serum as well as their improved RNase H recruitment capability to cleave the target RNA in the hybrid antisense-RNA duplex when used as an antisense agent, compared to those of locked nucleic acid (LNA) modified counterparts. Herein we report the relative inhibition efficiency of HIV-1 by jcLNA modified siRNAs targeting TAR region compared to those of the LNA counterparts, in that the former were found to exhibit improved silencing efficiency and displayed enhanced stability in human serum with negligible cytotoxicity compared to those of the latter. A single jcLNA substitution as the 3'-overhang of the guide strand displayed near native-like IC50 value (of 4.01 +/- 0.87 nM compared to the nearly two-fold higher IC50 value of 7.15 +/- 1.57 nM for LNA modified counterparts, and of the native siRNA of 1.84 +/- 0.16 nM) and significantly higher hp value for the stability in serum (11.9 h for jcLNA, 6.8 h for LNA and 3.0 h for native), thereby showing that the efficiency of jcLNA-modified-siRNAs is supported by stability without compromising the native-like efficiency and target RNA recognition and subsequent down-regulation. Amongst all the modified siRNAs so far used to target HIV-1 TAR region, the best IC50 value was obtained for the doubly-modified siRNA in which jcLNA substitution was introduced both at position 1 and 20 of the antisense strand (T-1 + T-20, i.e. jcLNA11 which showed IC50 value of 0.54 +/- 0.14 nM). The IC50 of this doubly-modified siRNA was more than three-fold lower than that of the native and two-fold lower than that of LNA modified counterpart, i.e. LNA12: IC50: 1.13 +/- 0.27 nM. Hence the strategy to chemically modify the native siRNAs by substitution with the jcLNA can be considered as a significant development, leading to both enhanced siRNA efficiency and serum stability over that of the native.
2011. Vol. 2, no 3, 206-216 p.