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Defects in human mitochondrial genome can cause a wide range of clinical disorders that still do not have efficient therapies. The natural pathway of small noncoding RNA import can be exploited to address therapeutic RNAs into the mitochondria. To create an approach of carrier-free targeting of RNA into living human cells, we designed conjugates containing a cholesterol residue and developed the protocols of chemical synthesis of oligoribonucleotides conjugated with cholesterol residue through cleavable pH-triggered hydrazone bond. The biodegradable conjugates of importable RNA with cholesterol can be internalized by cells in a carrier-free manner; RNA can then be released in the late endosomes due to a change in pH and partially targeted into mitochondria. Here we provide detailed protocols for solid-phase and "in solution" chemical synthesis of oligoribonucleotides conjugated to a cholesterol residue through a hydrazone bond. We describe the optimization of the carrier-free cell transfection with these conjugated RNA molecules and methods for evaluating the cellular and mitochondrial uptake of lipophilic conjugates.


Ilya Dovydenko, Mariya Meschaninova, Anne-Marie Heckel, Ivan Tarassov, Alya Venyaminova, Nina Entelis. Lipophilic Conjugates for Carrier-Free Delivery of RNA Importable into Human Mitochondria. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2021;2277:49-67

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PMID: 34080144

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