Complementary oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) that contain 2-aminoadenine and 2-thiothymine interact weakly with each other but form stable hybrids with unmodified complements. These selectively binding complementary (SBC) agents can invade duplex DNA and hybridize to each strand (Kutyavin, I. V., Rhinehart, R. L., Lukhtanov, E. A., Gorn, V. V., Meyer, R. B., and Gamper, H. B. (1996) Biochemistry 35, 11170-11176). Antisense ODNs with similar properties should be less encumbered by RNA secondary structure. Here we show that SBC ODNs strand invade a hairpin in the mini-exon RNA of Leishmania amazonensis and that the resulting heteroduplexes are substrates for Escherichia coli RNase H. SBC ODNs either with phosphodiester or phosphorothioate backbones form more stable hybrids with RNA than normal base (NB) ODNs. Optimal binding was observed when the entire hairpin sequence was targeted. Translation of L. amazonensis mRNA in a cell-free extract was more efficiently inhibited by SBC ODNs complementary to the mini-exon hairpin than by the corresponding NB ODNs. Nonspecific protein binding in the cell-free extract by phosphorothioate SBC ODNs rendered them ineffective as antisense agents in vitro. SBC phosphorothioate ODNs displayed a modest but significant improvement of leishmanicidal properties compared with NB phosphorothioate ODNs.
J Biol Chem. 1999 Mar 19;274(12):8191-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.274.12.8191.