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SMN2 splice modulators enhance U1-pre-mRNA association and rescue SMA mice.

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Published:1st Jul 2015
Author: Palacino J, Swalley SE, Song C, Cheung AK, Shu L, Zhang X et al.
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Ref.:Nat Chem Biol. 2015;11(7):511-7.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which results from the loss of expression of the survival of motor neuron-1 (SMN1) gene, represents the most common genetic cause of pediatric mortality. A duplicate copy (SMN2) is inefficiently spliced, producing a truncated and unstable protein. We describe herein a potent, orally active, small-molecule enhancer of SMN2 splicing that elevates full-length SMN protein and extends survival in a severe SMA mouse model. We demonstrate that the molecular mechanism of action is via stabilization of the transient double-strand RNA structure formed by the SMN2 pre-mRNA and U1 small nuclear ribonucleic protein (snRNP) complex. The binding affinity of U1 snRNP to the 5′ splice site is increased in a sequence-selective manner, discrete from constitutive recognition. This new mechanism demonstrates the feasibility of small molecule–mediated, sequence-selective splice modulation and the potential for leveraging this strategy in other splicing diseases.

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