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Antisense technology has great potential for the control of RNA expression, but there remain few successful applications of the technology. Expressed antisense RNA can effectively down-regulate expression of a gene over long periods, but cannot differentiate partly identical sequences, such as the mRNA of fusion genes or those with point mutants. We have designed a structured form of expressed antisense, which can discriminate between highly similar mRNA molecules. These 'masked' antisense RNAs have most of the antisense sequence sequestered within duplex elements, leaving a short single-stranded region to initiate binding to target RNA. After contacting the correct target, the structured RNA can unravel, releasing the masked antisense region to form a stable duplex with the mRNA. We demonstrate that suitable masked antisense RNA can discriminate between the two forms of BCR-ABL mRNA that result from the Philadelphia chromosomal translocations, as well as discriminating the normal BCR and ABL mRNA.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





59 - 64


Autoradiography, Blotting, Western, Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel, Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl, HeLa Cells, Humans, Nucleic Acid Conformation, Nucleic Acid Hybridization, Oligonucleotides, RNA, Antisense, RNA, Messenger, Transfection