Efficacy and immunogenicity of unmodified and pseudouridine-modified mRNA delivered systemically with lipid nanoparticles in vivo.
In vitro-transcribed mRNAs encoding physiologically important proteins have considerable potential for therapeutic applications. However, in its present form, mRNA is unfeasible for clinical use because of its labile and immunogenic nature. Here, we investigated whether incorporation of naturally modified nucleotides into transcripts would confer enhanced biological properties to mRNA. We found that mRNAs containing pseudouridines have a higher translational capacity than unmodified mRNAs when tested in mammalian cells and lysates or administered intravenously into mice at 0.015-0.15 mg/kg doses. The delivered mRNA and the encoded protein could be detected in the spleen at 1, 4, and 24 hours after the injection, where both products were at significantly higher levels when pseudouridine-containing mRNA was administered. Even at higher doses, only the unmodified mRNA was immunogenic, inducing high serum levels of interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). These findings indicate that nucleoside modification is an effective approach to enhance stability and translational capacity of mRNA while diminishing its immunogenicity in vivo. Improved properties conferred by pseudouridine make such mRNA a promising tool for both gene replacement and vaccination.