Many genetic disorders result from a single point mutation, and many tumor oncogenes have been found to be altered by a point mutation. The ability to inhibit selectively the expression of the mutated form of a protein without affecting its normal counterpart is central to many therapeutic strategies, since the normal protein may serve indispensable functions. Antisense oligonucleoside methylphosphonates and their psoralen derivatives directed at either normal human Ha-ras p21 or ras p21 that is mutated at a single base in codon 61 have been examined for their efficacy and specificity as inhibitors of p21 expression. Mixed cultures of cells expressing both forms of p21 were treated with the antisense oligomer complementary to the normal p21 or with the antisense oligomer complementary to the point-mutated p21. Each of the antisense oligomers specifically inhibited expression of only the form of ras p21 to which it was completely complementary and left the other form of p21 virtually unaffected.
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