New potent and selective antisense reagent described in Silence

In a recent report, Zheng et al demonstrate a technique for the specific inhibition of miRNA expression in Caenorhabditis elegans using modified antisense oligonucleotides, which could be utilized as a potent tool for the study of regulation and function of miRNAs in vivo. Their article is published in Silence, and is discussed further in a mini-review by Slack et al, published in Journal of Biology.

The authors developed a new class of fluorescently labeled antisense reagents in order to specifically inhibit the function of miRNAs in C. elegansThese antisense oligonucleotides were introduced into the germline of adult hermaphrodite C. elegans and passed onto the worms’ progeny, and were successfully shown to efficiently and specifically inhibit Lin-4 miRNA in several different tissues.  Confirmation of the specificity of this method was obtained using two further dextran conjugates, designed to block lsy-6 and let-7 respectively, two miRNAs of known function in C. elegans; both were shown to specifically block their target miRNAs. These antisense reagents can also be used in combination to inhibit more than one miRNA at a time, allowing researchers to study the effect of multiple miRNAs on gene expression and examine miRNA interactions.

The authors anticipate that this new class of antisense oligonucleotide will offer scientists a new experimental approach complimentary to the mutational strategy currently used for the study of miRNA function in vivo.

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