Author(s): Krieg AM
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Abstract Immune stimulation has been widely recognized as an undesirable side effect of certain antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ODN) which can interfere with their therapeutic application. It is now clear that these dose-dependent immune stimulatory effects primarily result from the presence of an unmethylated CpG dinucleotide in particular base contexts ('CpG motif). The sequence-specific immune activation is not just an experimental artifact, but is actually a highly evolved immune defense mechanism whose actual 'goal' is the detection of microbial nucleic acids. In contrast to vertebrate DNA, in which CpG dinucleotides are 'suppressed' and are highly methylated, microbial genomes do not generally feature CpG suppression or methylation . Immune effector cells such as B cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and natural killer cells appear to have evolved pattern recognition receptors (PRR) that by binding the microbe-restricted structure of CpG motifs, trigger protective immune responses. Although the specific immune activation appears to have a variety of potential therapeutic applications, it is generally undesirable in antisense ODN. Immune stimulation may be avoided in antisense oligos by the selection of CpG-free target sequences, by the use of ODN backbones that do not support immune stimulation, or by selective modifications of the cytosine in any CpG dinucleotides.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Aquaculture Research & Development