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Most U-rich small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) are complexes that mediate the splicing of pre-mRNAs. U7 snRNP is an exception in that it is not involved in splicing but is a key factor in the unique 3' end processing of replication-dependent histone mRNAs. However, by introducing controlled changes in the U7 snRNA histone binding sequence and in the Sm motif, it can be used as an effective tool for gene therapy. The modified U7 snRNP (U7 Sm OPT) is thus not involved in the processing of replication-dependent histone pre-mRNA but targets splicing by inducing efficient skipping or inclusion of selected exons. U7 Sm OPT is of therapeutic importance in diseases that are an outcome of splicing defects, such as myotonic dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, β-thalassemia, HIV-1 infection and spinal muscular atrophy. The benefits of using U7 Sm OPT for gene therapy are its compact size, ability to accumulate in the nucleus without causing any toxic effects in the cells, and no immunoreactivity. The risk of transgene misregulation by using U7 Sm OPT is also low because it is involved in correcting the expression of an endogenous gene controlled by its own regulatory elements. Altogether, using U7 Sm OPT as a tool in gene therapy can ensure lifelong treatment, whereas an oligonucleotide or other drug/compound would require repeated administration. It would thus be strategic to harness these unique properties of U7 snRNP and deploy it as a tool in gene therapy. © 2021 The Authors. The Journal of Gene Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Ankur Gadgil, Katarzyna Dorota Raczyńska. U7 snRNA: A tool for gene therapy. The journal of gene medicine. 2021 Apr;23(4):e3321

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PMID: 33590603

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