1. Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
2. Neuropediatric unit, Karolinska University Hospital and Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
3. Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden
Osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as “brittle bone disease”, is a heterogeneous disorder of connective tissue generally caused by dominant mutations in the genes COL1A1 and COL1A2, encoding the α1 and α2 chains of type I (pro)collagen. Symptomatic patients are usually prescribed bisphosphonates, but this treatment is neither curative nor sufficient. A promising field is gene silencing through RNA interference. In this study small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were designed to target each allele of 3'UTR insertion/deletion polymorphisms (indels) in COL1A1 (rs3840870) and COL1A2 (rs3917). For both indels, the frequency of heterozygous individuals was determined to be approximately 50% in Swedish cohorts of healthy controls as well as in patients with osteogenesis imperfecta. Cultures of primary human bone derived cells were transfected with siRNAs through magnet-assisted transfection. cDNA from transfected cells was sequenced in order to measure targeted allele/non-targeted allele ratios and the overall degree of silencing was assessed by quantitative PCR. Successful allele dependent silencing was observed, with promising results for siRNAs complementary to both the insertion and non-insertion harboring alleles. In COL1A1 cDNA the indel allele ratios were shifted from 1 to 0.09 and 0.19 for the insertion and non-insertion allele respectively while the equivalent resulting ratios for COL1A2 were 0.05 and 0.01. Reductions in mRNA abundance were also demonstrated; in cells treated with siRNAs targeting the COL1A1 alleles the average COL1A1 mRNA levels were reduced 65% and 78% compared to negative control levels and in cells treated with COL1A2 siRNAs the average COL1A2 mRNA levels were decreased 26% and 49% of those observed in the corresponding negative controls. In conclusion, allele dependent silencing of collagen type I utilizing 3'UTR indels common in the general population constitutes a promising mutation independent therapeutic approach for osteogenesis imperfecta.
Keywords: osteogenesis imperfecta, collagen type I, siRNA