Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been demonstrated to be very useful tools for gene regulation at different levels and with different mechanisms of action. In the last few years the use of PNAs for targeting microRNAs (anti-miRNA PNAs) has provided impressive advancements. In particular, targeting of microRNAs involved in the repression of the expression of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, which is defective in cystic fibrosis (CF), is a key step in the development of new types of treatment protocols. In addition to the anti-miRNA therapeutic strategy, inhibition of miRNA functions can be reached by masking the miRNA binding sites present within the 3′UTR region of the target mRNAs. The objective of this study was to design a PNA masking the binding site of the microRNA miR-145-5p present within the 3′UTR of the CFTR mRNA and to determine its activity in inhibiting miR-145-5p function, with particular focus on the expression of both CFTR mRNA and CFTR protein in Calu-3 cells. The results obtained support the concept that the PNA masking the miR-145-5p binding site of the CFTR mRNA is able to interfere with miR-145-5p biological functions, leading to both an increase of CFTR mRNA and CFTR protein content.
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