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Enhancement of Regnase-1 expression with stem loop-targeting antisense oligonucleotides alleviates inflammatory diseases

Tse, KM;Vandenbon, A;Cui, X;Mino, T;Uehata, T;Yasuda, K;Sato, A;Tsujimura, T;Hia, F;Yoshinaga, M;Kinoshita, M;Okuno, T;Takeuchi, O;

Regnase-1 is an ribonuclease that plays essential roles in restricting inflammation through degrading messenger RNAs (mRNAs) involved in immune reactions via the recognition of stem-loop (SL) structures in the 3′ untranslated regions (3’UTRs). Dysregulated expression of Regnase-1 is associated with the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in mice and humans. Here, we developed a therapeutic strategy to suppress inflammatory responses by blocking Regnase-1 self-regulation, which was mediated by the simultaneous use of two antisense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs) to alter the binding of Regnase-1 toward the SL structures in its 3’UTR. Regnase-1-targeting MOs not only enhanced Regnase-1 expression by stabilizing mRNAs but also effectively reduced the expression of multiple proinflammatory transcripts that were controlled by Regnase-1 in macrophages. Intratracheal administration of Regnase-1-targeting MOs ameliorated acute respiratory distress syndrome and chronic fibrosis through suppression of inflammatory cascades. In addition, intracranial treatment with Regnase-1-targeting MOs attenuated the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by promoting the expansion of homeostatic microglia and regulatory T cell populations. Regnase-1 expression was inversely correlated with disease severity in patients with multiple sclerosis, and MOs targeting human Regnase-1 SL structures were effective in mitigating cytokine production in human immune cells. Collectively, MO-mediated disruption of the Regnase-1 self-regulation pathway is a potential therapeutic strategy to enhance Regnase-1 abundance, which, in turn, provides therapeutic benefits for treating inflammatory diseases by suppressing inflammation.