Epidermolytic palmoplantar keratoderma (EPPK) is one of >30 autosomal-dominant human keratinizing disorders that could benefit from RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapy. EPPK is caused by mutations in the keratin 9 (KRT9) gene, which is exclusively expressed in thick palm and sole skin where there is considerable keratin redundancy. This, along with the fact that EPPK is predominantly caused by a few hotspot mutations, makes it an ideal proof-of-principle model skin disease to develop gene-specific, as well as mutation-specific, short interfering RNA (siRNA) therapies. We have developed a broad preclinical RNAi-based therapeutic package for EPPK containing generic KRT9 siRNAs and allele-specific siRNAs for four prevalent mutations. Inhibitors were systematically identified in vitro using a luciferase reporter gene assay and validated using an innovative dual-Flag/Strep-TagII quantitative immunoblot assay. siKRT9-1 and siKRT9-3 were the most potent generic K9 inhibitors, eliciting >85% simultaneous knockdown of wild-type and mutant K9 protein synthesis at picomolar concentrations. The allele-specific inhibitors displayed similar potencies and, importantly, exhibited strong specificities for their target dominant-negative alleles with little or no effect on wild-type K9. The most promising allele-specific siRNA, siR163Q-13, was tested in a mouse model and was confirmed to preferentially inhibit mutant allele expression in vivo.
Leslie Pedrioli, D. M., Fu, D. J., Gonzalez-Gonzalez, E., Contag, C. H., Kaspar, R. L., Smith, F. J. D., & McLean, W. H. I. (2012). Generic and personalized RNAi-based therapeutics for a dominant-negative epidermal fragility disorder. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 132(6), 1627-1635. https://doi.org/10.1038/jid.2012.28