Advances in therapeutic bacterial antisense biotechnology

John P. Hegarty, David B. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Antisense therapeutics are a biotechnological form of antibiotic therapy using chemical analogues of short single-stranded nucleic acid sequences modified to form stable oligomers. These molecules are termed antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) because their sequence is complementary, via Watson-Crick specific base pairing, to their target messenger RNA (mRNA). ASOs modify gene expression in this sequence-dependent manner by binding to its complementary mRNA and inhibiting its translation into protein through steric blockage and/or through RNase degradation of the ASO/RNA duplex. The widespread use of conventional antibiotics has led to the increasing emergence of multiple drug-resistant pathogenic bacteria. There is an urgent need to develop alternative therapeutic strategies to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with bacterial infections, and until recently, the use of ASOs as therapeutic agents has been essentially limited to eukaryotic cells, with ASOs as antibacterials having been largely unexplored primarily due to the poor uptake efficiency of antisense molecules by bacteria. There are conceptual advantages to bacterial antisense antibiotic therapies, including a sequence-dependent approach that allows for a rational design to multiple specific molecular targets. This review summarizes the current knowledge of antisense bacterial biotechnology and highlights the recent progress and the current obstacles in their development for therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1065
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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