2018 Zhang Ammonium and arsenic trioxide are potent facilitators of oligonucleotide function when delivered by gymnosis; Xiaowei Zhang, Daniela Castanotto, Xueli Liu, Amotz Shemi and Cy A. Stein, Nucleic Acids Research, 2018 1

Abstract: Oligonucleotide (ON) concentrations employed for therapeutic applications vary widely, but in general are high enough to raise significant concerns for off target effects and cellular toxicity. However, lowering ON concentrations reduces the chances of a therapeutic response, since typically relatively small amounts of ON are taken up by targeted cells in tissue culture. It is therefore imperative to identify new strategies to improve the concentration dependence of ON function. In this work, we have identified ammonium ion (NH4+) as a non-toxic potent enhancer of ON activity in the nucleus and cytoplasm following delivery by gymnosis. NH4
+ is a metabolite that has been extensively employed as diuretic, expectorant, for the treatment of renal calculi and in a variety of other diseases. Enhancement of function can be found in attached and suspension cells, including in difficult-to-transfect Jurkat T and CEM T cells. We have also demonstrated that NH4+ can synergistically interact with arsenic trioxide (arsenite) to further promote ON function without producing any apparent increased cellular toxicity. These small, inexpensive, widely distributed molecules could be useful not only in laboratory experiments but potentially in therapeutic ON-based combinatorial strategy for clinical