Immunologic Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 4-14

First online:

Structural requirements and applications of inhibitory oligodeoxyribonucleotides

  • Robert F. AshmanAffiliated withGraduate Program in Immunology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa Email author 
  • , Petar LenertAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa

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Synthetic oligodeoxyribonucleotides (ODN) bearing certain sequence characteristics mimic bacterial DNA by activating B cells and dendritic cells through Toll-like receptor (TLR) 9, an event that potentiates both humoral and cell-mediated immunity. ODN sharing some of the sequence characteristics of strong stimulatory (ST-) ODN, but substituting GGG for CGTT, competitively inhibit ST-ODN-driven events. An ODN with the same length and base composition as a strong ST-ODN, but lacking both ST- and IN-sequence requirements, has neither ST- nor IN-activity. Whereas, certain sequence changes strongly influence ST-ODN activity in human cells relative to mouse cells and B cells relative to non B cells, the strongest IN-ODN appear to work well in both species and multiple cell types. Converting from the natural phosphodiester backbone to a nuclease-resistant phosphorothioate backbone increases the sensitivity to ST-ODN about 2 logs and to IN-ODN 3 logs, while increasing the impact of critical base changes in ST-ODN and diminishing it in IN-ODN. Examples where IN-ODN have been used in vivo to interrupt autoimmune and other TLR-9-induced inflammatory states are described.


Inhibitory oligonucleotides TLR9 Stimulatory oligonucleotides Autoimmunity Bacterial DNA