A major obstacle in the development of effective oligonucleotide therapeutics is a lack of understanding about their cytosolic and nuclear penetration. To address this problem, we have applied the chloroalkane penetration assay (CAPA) to oligonucleotide therapeutics. CAPA was used to quantitate cytosolic delivery of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and siRNAs and to explore the effects of a wide variety of commonly used chemical modifications and their patterning. We evaluated potential artifacts by exploring the effects of serum, comparing activity data and CAPA data, and assessing the impact of the chloroalkane tag and its linker chemistry. We also used viral transduction to expand CAPA to the nuclear compartment in epithelial and neuronal cell lines. Using this enhanced method, we measured a 48-h time course of nuclear penetration for a panel of chemically diverse modified RNAs. Moving forward, CAPA will be a useful tool for deconvoluting the complex processes of endosomal uptake, escape into the cytosol, and subcellular trafficking of oligonucleotide therapeutics in therapeutically relevant cell types.
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