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Splicing defects caused by mutations in the consensus sequences at the borders of introns and exons are common in human diseases. Such defects frequently result in a complete loss of function of the protein in question. Therapy approaches based on antisense oligonucleotides for specific gene mutations have been developed in the past, but they are very expensive and require invasive, life-long administration. Thus, modulation of splicing by means of small molecules is of great interest for the therapy of genetic diseases resulting from splice-site mutations. Using minigene approaches and patient cells, we here show that methylxanthine derivatives and the food-derived flavonoid luteolin are able to enhance the correct splicing of the AGA mRNA with a splice-site mutation c.128-2A>G in aspartylglucosaminuria, and result in increased AGA enzyme activity in patient cells. Furthermore, we also show that one of the most common disease causing TPP1 gene variants in classic late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis may also be amenable to splicing modulation using similar substances. Therefore, our data suggest that splice-modulation with small molecules may be a valid therapy option for lysosomal storage disorders.


Antje Banning, Ritva Tikkanen. Towards Splicing Therapy for Lysosomal Storage Disorders: Methylxanthines and Luteolin Ameliorate Splicing Defects in Aspartylglucosaminuria and Classic Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. Cells. 2021 Oct 20;10(11)

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PMID: 34831035

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