(19)
(11)EP 3 452 593 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
23.12.2020 Bulletin 2020/52

(21)Application number: 17722704.8

(22)Date of filing:  26.04.2017
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C12N 15/113  (2010.01)
C12Q 1/68  (2018.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2017/059984
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/191021 (09.11.2017 Gazette  2017/45)

(54)

THE INCRNA MEG3 FOR THERAPY AND DIAGNOSIS OF CARDIAC REMODELLING

LNCRNA MEG3 ZUR THERAPIE UND DIAGNOSE VON KARDIALER REMODELLIERUNG

LNCRNA MEG3 POUR LA THÉRAPIE ET LE DIAGNOSTIC DU REMODELAGE CARDIAQUE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 02.05.2016 EP 16167961

(43)Date of publication of application:
13.03.2019 Bulletin 2019/11

(73)Proprietor: Medizinische Hochschule Hannover
30625 Hannover (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • THUM, Thomas
    30627 Hannover (DE)
  • PICCOLI, Maria-Teresa
    30159 Hannover (DE)
  • VIERECK, Janika
    30169 Hannover (DE)
  • GUPTA, Shashi Kumar
    30625 Hannover (DE)

(74)Representative: Vossius & Partner Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte mbB 
Siebertstrasse 3
81675 München
81675 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2007/097741
WO-A1-2011/087154
  
  • XINGHUA WANG ET AL: "Noncoding RNA in cardiac fibrosis", INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CARDIOLOGY., vol. 187, 18 March 2015 (2015-03-18), pages 365-368, XP055315900, NL ISSN: 0167-5273, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.03.195
  • ESTHER E. CREEMERS ET AL: "Function and Therapeutic Potential of Noncoding RNAs in Cardiac Fibrosis", CIRCULATION RESEARCH., vol. 118, no. 1, 4 November 2015 (2015-11-04), pages 108-118, XP055315901, US ISSN: 0009-7330, DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.115.305242
  • ROB JANSSEN ET AL: "Cardiac Expression of Deiodinase type 3 (Dio3) Following Myocardial Infarction Is Associated With the Induction of a Pluripotency microRNA Signature from the Dlk1-Dio3 Genomic Region", ENDOCRINOLOGY, vol. 154, no. 6, 3 April 2013 (2013-04-03) , pages 1973-1978, XP055315892, US ISSN: 0013-7227, DOI: 10.1210/en.2012-2017
  • PICCOLI MARIA-TERESA ET AL: "Non-coding RNAs as modulators of the cardiac fibroblast phenotype", JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR CARDIOLOGY, vol. 92, 4 January 2016 (2016-01-04), pages 75-81, XP029458199, ISSN: 0022-2828, DOI: 10.1016/J.YJMCC.2015.12.023
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] The present invention is defined by the claims. The present invention in particular relates to a compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of maternally expressed 3 (Meg3) as characterized by the appended claims for use in treating or preventing cardiac remodelling.

[0002] Large-scale analysis of mammalian transcriptomes uncovered that transcription of genomes leads to a complex proportion of RNA molecules of which only a small fraction serves as templates for protein synthesis. Several studies indicate that these non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have as important biological functions as their protein coding counterparts and suggest that altered expression or function of ncRNAs effects cardiovascular diseases, including cardiac diseases involving cardiac remodelling, such as cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis, coronary artery disorders, as well as myocardial infarction.

[0003] The most reflected ncRNAs in cardiovascular research are microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs). These are endogenous, single-stranded RNAs composed of approximately 20-22 nucleotides that bind other transcripts reducing the stability and/or translation of their targets. For example, it was shown that miR-21 and miR-132 induce cardiac fibrosis or hypertrophy, respectively, and that in vivo repression of these miRNAs by specific AntagomiRs (being chemically engineered oligonucleotides silencing miRNAs) rescues fibrosis or hypertrophy in cardiac disease model of pressure-overload (Thum et al. Nature. 2008 456(7224):980-4.; Ucar and Gupta et al. Nat Commun. 2012 3:1078). In another study it was found that miR-24 acts as a critical regulator of angiogenesis in ischemic heart disease (Fiedler et al. Circulation. 2011 124(6):720-30). Topkara and Mann (2011), Cardiovasc Drugs Ther.; 25(2):171-82 provides a review on the role of miRNAs in cardiac remodelling and heart failure.

[0004] More recent studies indicate that similar to miRNAs, long ncRNAs (IncRNAs) may also play an important role in various biological processes. LncRNAs are mRNA-like transcripts ranging from 200 nucleotides up to 100 kilobases and are classified based on their genomic distribution relative to protein-coding genes (sense to exons and/or introns, antisense, bidirectional, or intergenic). Several IncRNA transcripts are exclusively restricted to the nucleus, while others are also found in the cytoplasm. Here they interact with proteins as well as other RNA or DNA molecules enabling IncRNAs to influence a variety of gene regulatory mechanisms including chromatin modification, genomic imprinting, nuclear compartmentalization and architecture, as well as transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation (Schonrock et al. Circ Res. 2012 Oct 26;111(10):1349-62.; Caley et al. ScientificWorldJournal. 2010 10:90-102). Not surprisingly, IncRNAs are involved in human disease, such as cancer, metabolic and neuronal disorders.

[0005] However, little is known about their role in cardiovascular biology and in particular in cardiac disease. Recent studies indicated that the two IncRNAs Braveheart (Bvht) and FOXF1 adjacent non-coding developmental regulatory RNA (Fendrr) are required for the differentiation of cardiomyocytes and the development of lateral mesoderm tissue in the heart and body wall, respectively (Klattenhoff et al. Cell. 2013 152(3):570-83.; Grote et al. Dev Cell. 2013 24(2):206-14). Both IncRNAs modulate the epigenetic profile of cells via an interaction with chromatin modifying complexes. Recent reports have also started to explore the role of IncRNAs in cardiovascular disease. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in loci encoding for the IncRNAs MIAT (myocardial infarction-associated transcript) or ANRIL (antisense noncoding RNA in the INK4 locus) that seem to be related to risk of myocardial infarction or coronary artery disease (Ishii et al. J Hum Genet. 2006 51(12):1087-99.; McPherson et al. Science. 2007 316(5830):1488-91). The IncRNA Kcnq1ot1 controls the expression of its antisense gene Kcnq1 that encodes for a potassium channel. Since the potassium channel activity is essential for a normal cardiac performance, an altered regulation related by IncRNAs might lead to an abnormal heart function (Korostowski et al. PLoS Genet. 2012 8(9):e1002956). The circulating IncRNA LIPCAR can be used to predict survival in patients with heart failure (Kumarswamy et al. (2014), Circ Res.; 114(10):1569-75). Moreover, the IncRNA Chast has been shown to promote cardiac remodelling (Viereck et al. (2016), Sci Transl Med.; 8(326):326ra22).

[0006] One of the main challenges in cardiac disease research is to identify novel and effective approaches to modulate gene networks or specific intracellular signaling pathways that may prove as effective therapeutic options themselves or have the potential to expand the efficiency of existing therapeutic strategies. The object of the present invention is therefore the provision of novel means and methods for treating or preventing cardiac diseases, in particular cardiac remodelling. It was surprisingly found in connection with the present invention that the IncRNA maternally expressed 3 (Meg3) plays a role in the development of cardiac remodelling thereby providing novel therapeutic and diagnostic strategies.

[0007] Accordingly the present invention relates in first aspect to a compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of maternally expressed 3 (Meg3) for use in treating or preventing cardiac remodelling, wherein the compound is a nucleotide-based inhibitor selected from a siRNA, a shRNA and an antisense oligonucleotide; or a nucleotide-based inhibitor comprising (a) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence being complementary to at least 12 continuous nucleotides of a nucleic acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, (b) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence which is at least 70% identical to the complementary strand of one or more nucleic acid sequences selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, (c) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence according to (a) or (b), wherein the nucleic acid sequence is DNA or RNA, (d) an expression vector expressing the nucleic acid sequence as defined in any one of (a) to (c), preferably under the control of a heart-specific promoter and/or a fibroblast-specific promoter, or (e) a host comprising the expression vector of (d)..

[0008] Also described herein is a method for treating or preventing cardiac remodelling in a patient in need thereof by administering to the patient a therapeutically effective amount of a compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of maternally expressed 3 (Meg3).

[0009] As used herein "maternally expressed 3 (Meg3)" (also known as GTL2; FP504; prebp1; PRO0518; PRO2160; LINC00023; NCRNA00023; or onco-IncRNA-83) designates a maternally expressed, imprinted IncRNA (Zhang et al. (2010), Endocrinology 151(3) 939-47). The human MEG3 gene is found on chromosome 14q32.2 and the mouse Meg3 gene on the distal chromosome 12. The IncRNA Meg3 is known to act as a tumor suppressor (Zhang et al. (2003), J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 88(11):5119-26). In more detail, Meg3 is expressed in many normal tissues, but its expression is lost in multiple cancer cell lines of various tissue origins. It inhibits tumor cell proliferation in vitro. It also interacts with the tumor suppressor p53, and regulates p53 target gene expression. Its deletion enhances angiogenesis in vivo. Meg3 is furthermore known to play an essential role in controlling pre- and postnatal growth and differentiation in mice and humans (Takahashi et al (2009), Hum. Molec. Genet., 18:1879-1888). In addition, Meg3 is involved in the senescence of endothelial cells (Boon (2015), Physiology, Proc Physiol Soc 34, SA022). Finally, reduced levels of Meg3 were detected in fibrotic liver of human and mouse (He et al. (2014), Biochim Biophys Acta, 1842(11):2204-15). However, to the best knowledge of the inventors the role of Meg3 in cardiac remodelling is disclosed for the first time by the present invention.

[0010] The term "ncRNA" or "non-coding RNA" as used herein designates a functional RNA molecule that is not translated into a protein. The DNA sequence from which a non-coding RNA is transcribed is often called in the art an RNA gene. The term "IncRNA" or "long non-coding RNA" is commonly used in the art and designates an ncRNA comprising more than 200 nucleotides. As will be further detailed herein below all known mouse and human Meg3 isofoms have more than 200 nucleotides. Meg3 is therefore an IncRNA.

[0011] A compound inhibiting the expression of Meg3 is in accordance with the present disclosure a compound lowering or preventing the transcription of the gene encoding the IncRNA Meg3. Such compounds include compounds interfering with the transcriptional machinery and/or its interaction with the promoter of said gene and/or with expression control elements remote from the promoter such as enhancers. The compound inhibiting the expression of Meg3 specifically inhibits the expression of said IncRNA, for example, by specifically interfering with the promoter region controlling the expression of the IncRNA. Preferably, the transcription of Meg3 is reduced by at least 50%, more preferred at least 75% such as at least 90% or 95%, even more preferred at least 98% and most preferred by about 100% (e.g., as compared to the same experimental set up in the absence of the compound).

[0012] A compound inhibiting the activity of Meg3 in accordance with the present disclosure causes said IncRNA to perform its function with lowered efficiency. The compound inhibiting the activity of Meg3 specifically inhibits the activity of said IncRNA. Preferably, the activity of Meg3 is reduced by at least 50%, more preferred at least 75% such as at least 90% or 95%, even more preferred at least 98%, and most preferably about 100% (e.g., as compared to the same experimental set up in the absence of the compound). Means and methods for determining the reduction of activity of an RNA are established in the art and are described, for example, in Esau et al. (2004), JBC, 279:52361-52365 or Gribbings et al. (2009), Nature Cell Biology 11, 1143-1149. A compound inhibiting the activity of Meg3 may be an antisense molecule, siRNA, shRNA, antibody, ribozyme, aptamer, or small molecule. These and other compounds will be further detailed herein below.

[0013] The efficiency of an inhibiting compound can be quantified by methods comparing the level of activity in the presence of the inhibitor to that in the absence of the inhibitor. For example, the change in the amount of Meg3 formed may be used in the measurement of its activity. As a further example, the change in the amount of MMP2 formed may be used in the measurement of its activity(noting that the downregulation of Meg3 is shown in the examples to be accompanied by the downregulation of MMP2). Such a method may be effected in high-throughput format in order to test the efficiency of several inhibiting compounds simultaneously. High-throughput assays, independently of being biochemical, cellular or other assays, generally may be performed in wells of microtiter plates, wherein each plate may contain 96, 384 or 1536 wells. Handling of the plates, including incubation at temperatures other than ambient temperature, and bringing into contact of test compounds with the assay mixture is preferably affected by one or more computer-controlled robotic systems including pipetting devices. In case large libraries of test compounds are to be screened and/or screening is to be effected within short time, mixtures of, for example 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 100 test compounds may be added to each well. In case a well exhibits the expected activity, said mixture of test compounds may be de-convoluted to identify the one or more test compounds in said mixture giving rise to said activity.

[0014] The compounds inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3 may be formulated as vesicles, such as liposomes. Liposomes have attracted great interest because of their specificity and the duration of action they offer from the standpoint of drug delivery. Liposomal delivery systems have been used to effectively deliver nucleic acids, such as siRNA in vivo into cells (Zimmermann et al. (2006) Nature, 441:111-114). Liposomes are unilamellar or multilamellar vesicles which have a membrane formed from a lipophilic material and an aqueous interior. The aqueous portion contains the composition to be delivered. Cationic liposomes possess the advantage of being able to fuse to the cell wall. Non-cationic liposomes, although not able to fuse as efficiently with the cell wall, are phagocytosed by macrophages and other cells in vivo.

[0015] The compounds inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3 can be administered to the subject at a suitable dose. The dosage regimen will be determined by the attending physician and clinical factors. As is well known in the medical arts, dosages for any one patient depends upon many factors, including the patient's size, body surface area, age, the particular compound to be administered, sex, time and route of administration, general health, and other drugs being administered concurrently. The therapeutically effective amount for a given situation will readily be determined by routine experimentation and is within the skills and judgement of the ordinary clinician or physician. Generally, the regimen as a regular administration of the pharmaceutical composition should be in the range of 1 µg to 5 g units per day. However, a more preferred dosage is in the range of 0.01 mg to 100 mg, even more preferably 0.01 mg to 50 mg and most preferably 0.01 mg to 10 mg per day. Furthermore, if for example said compound comprises or is an nucleic acid molecule, such as an siRNA, the total pharmaceutically effective amount of pharmaceutical composition administered will typically be less than about 75 mg per kg of body weight, such as for example less than about 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.1, 0.05, 0.01, 0.005, 0.001, or 0.0005 mg per kg of body weight. More preferably, the amount will be less than 2000 nmol of nucleic acid molecule per kg of body weight, such as for example less than 1500, 750, 300, 150, 75, 15, 7.5, 1.5, 0.75, 0.15, 0.075, 0.015, 0.0075, 0.0015, 0.00075 or 0.00015 nmol per kg of body weight.

[0016] The length of treatment needed to observe changes and the interval following treatment for responses to occur vary depending on the desired effect. The particular amounts may be determined by conventional tests which are well known to the person skilled in the art. Suitable tests are, for example, described in Tamhane and Logan (2002), "Multiple Test Procedures for Identifying the Minimum Effective and Maximum Safe Doses of a Drug", Journal of the American statistical association, 97(457):1-9.

[0017] The compounds inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3 are preferably admixed with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier or excipient to form a pharmaceutical composition. By "pharmaceutically acceptable carrier or excipient" is meant a non-toxic solid, semisolid or liquid filler, diluent, encapsulating material or formulation auxiliary of any type (see also Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients 6ed. 2010, Published by the Pharmaceutical Press). The compounds inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3 or the pharmaceutical composition may be administered, for example, orally, parenterally, such as subcutaneously, intravenously, intramuscularly, intraperitoneally, intrathecally, transdermally, transmucosally, subdurally, locally or topically via iontopheresis, sublingually, by inhalation spray, aerosol or rectally and the like in dosage unit formulations optionally comprising conventional pharmaceutically acceptable carriers or excipients.

[0018] The term cardiac remodelling is defined herein as an alteration in the structure (e.g., dimensions, mass, shape) of the heart. Cardiac remodelling may occur in response to hemodynamic load and/or cardiac injury in association with neurohormonal activation. Remodelling may be described as physiologic or pathologic. For instance, pathologic (or unhealthy) cardiac remodelling is to be held distinct from physiologic (or healthy) cardiac remodelling (such cardiac remodelling or "athlete's heart") which is a normal response of the heart, for example, in response to healthy exercise or pregnancy. Among healthy subjects, rowers or cyclists tend to have the largest hearts, with an average left ventricular wall thickness of 1.3 centimeters, compared to 1.1 centimeters in average adults. Cardiac remodelling is in accordance with the disclsure unhealthy cardiac remodelling or pathological remodelling, such as cardiac remodelling in response to stress or disease, e.g., hypertension, heart muscle injury (myocardial infarction), heart failure or neurohormones. The remodelling process preferably includes increases in myocardial mass.

[0019] As can be taken from the examples herein below on a mouse model of pressure overload (i.e. TAC mice), the IncRNA Meg3 plays a role in the development of cardiac remodelling. In more detail, in the examples cardiac remodelling was induced in C57BI/6N mice via transverse aortic constriction (TAC) and cardiac cells, including cardiac fibroblasts, were isolated from TAC and sham mice 13 weeks after surgery. LncRNA profiling in TAC and sham cardiac fibroblasts was performed through Arraystar's Mouse LncRNA Expression Microarray V2.0. Meg3 was identified among the most abundant IncRNAs in cardiac fibroblasts and the strongest regulated ones during pressure overload. Real-time PCR confirmed the downregulation of Meg3 in TAC fibroblasts, while no regulation was observed in cardiomyocytes or endothelial cells. Furthermore, expression levels of Meg3 in cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells of healthy mice represented, respectively, only 2% and 20% of the transcript levels found in cardiac fibroblasts of healthy mice. Meg3 expression in the heart seems to be dynamically regulated during the course of TAC, with upregulation occurring after 4 weeks of pressure overload and downregulation becoming evident only after 6 weeks. In cultured primary cardiac fibroblasts isolated from adult mice, Meg3 appears to be a nuclear IncRNA, strictly localized to the cell chromatin. Silencing of this IncRNA via transfection with antisense oligonucleotides (LNA GapmeRs, Exiqon) in mouse and human cardiac fibroblasts led to transcriptional regulation of several genes involved in cardiac remodelling, including cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and MMPs. In particular, in vitro silencing of Meg3 is accompanied by downregulation of MMP2 and inhibition of the TGF-beta-induced increase in MMP2 transcription. MMP2 deletion has been reported to ameliorate hypertrophy and fibrosis in a mouse model of TAC-induced cardiac remodelling, leading to improvement of diastolic function (Matsusaka H. et al. Hypertension. 2006 Apr; 47(4):711-7. Epub 2006 Feb 27). In the examples herein below, mice were subjected to 6 weeks of TAC and continuous silencing of Meg3 from week 1 until endpoint. Silencing was achieved via LNA GapmeRs and prevented the TAC-induced upregulation of MMP2, significantly reducing cardiac remodelling as evidenced by reduced cardiac fibrosis, reduced expression of pro-fibrotic molecules, decreased expression of hypertrophy markers and reduced cardiomyocytes cross-sectional area. Ejection fraction and fractional shortening were not affected by Meg3 levels; however, the left ventricular myocardial performance index measured via pulsed Doppler echocardiography revealed a functional improvement of the heart, with values of the index comparable to that of sham mice. Furthermore, pharmacological silencing of Meg3 in vivo did not lead to increased infiltration of inflammatory cells or increased MMP9 expression, which has been reported to occur in late cardiac remodelling stages, overtaking MMP2 levels and leading to heart failure (Givvimani S. et al. Arch Physiol Biochem. 2010 May;116(2):63-72). It is also shown in the examples that silencing of Meg3 reduces LV mass following TAC and leads to a significantly better diastolic function without affecting cardiac contractility. Based on these experimental findings, it has been shown that silencing of Meg3 in the heart is a therapeutic approach for the treatment and prevention of cardiac remodeling.

[0020] In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, the cardiac remodelling is Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF).

[0021] Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF) (also referred to as diastolic heart failure) is commonly understood as manifestation of signs and symptoms of heart failure with a normal ejection fraction (> 50%). HFpEF is characterized by cardiac remodelling, in particular a decrease in left ventricular compliance, leading to increased pressure in the left ventricle. Accordingly, concentric remodelling (with or without LV hypertrophy) is seen in many HFpEF patients. Also an increased left atrial size is often seen with HFpEF as a result of the poor left ventricular diastolic function. There is an increased risk for the development of congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary hypertension. Risk factors are hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, smoking, and obstructive sleep apnea. Morbidity and mortality in HFpEF patients are similar to values observed in patients with heart failure (HF) and reduced EF (i.e. HFrEF patients). However, so far no effective treatment has been identified for HFpEF (Borlaug and Paulus et al. (2014), Eur Heart J., 32(6):670-679). For this reason the treatment means and methods disclosed herein are of particular importance for HFpEF patients or patients being at risk of becoming HFpEF. The anti-MEG3 approach disclosed herein is apparently an ideal approach for the treatment and prevention of HFpEF.

[0022] In accordance with another preferred embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, the cardiac remodelling is Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF), myocardial infarction related cardiac remodelling, genetic cardiac disease associated cardiac remodelling, cardiac hypertrophy and/or cardiac fibrosis.

[0023] A direct effect of the inhibition of Meg3 on cardiac remodelling is demonstrated in the examples of this application on the basis of the well-established TAC mouse model for cardiac remodelling (Mei et al. (2006), Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol.; 33(9):773-9.). As will be described in more detail in the following, all heart conditions listed in this preferred embodiment are associated with cardiac remodelling and therefore can be treated or prevented in accordance with the present invention by a compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3.

[0024] Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF) (also referred to as systolic heart failure) is commonly understood as manifestation of signs and symptoms of heart failure with an ejection fraction less than 40%. HFrEF generally occurs when the left ventricle is dilated and enlarged with poor systolic function. Around 50% of HF patients have a HFpEF and around 50% of heart failure patients have a HFrEF. Just as HfpEF, HFrEF is characterized by cardiac remodelling, in particular a decrease in left ventricular compliance, leading to increased pressure in the left ventricle.

[0025] Myocardial infarction (MI) is commonly known as a heart attack. MI occurs when blood flow stops to a part of the heart causing damage to the heart muscle. After an MI typically postinfarction cardiac remodelling is observed. In more detail, the acute loss of myocardium caused by the MI results in an abrupt increase in loading conditions that induces a unique pattern of remodelling involving the infarcted border zone and remote noninfarcted myocardium. Myocyte necrosis and the resultant increase in load trigger a cascade of biochemical intracellular signaling processes that initiates and subsequently modulates reparative changes, which include dilatation, hypertrophy, and the formation of a discrete collagen scar. In particular, ventricular remodelling may continue for weeks or months after the MI until the distending forces are counterbalanced by the tensile strength of the collagen scar. The postinfarction cardiac remodelling after MI is referred to herein as "myocardial infarction related cardiac remodelling".

[0026] A genetic (or inherited) cardiac disease is caused by changes in genes that are passed from generation to generation. Many different types of heart diseases can be inherited. Examples include conditions that affect the heart muscle, called inherited cardiomyopathies, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, Morbus Fabry disease, amyloidoses and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. These examples also involve cardiac remodelling. Specific examples of genetic cardiac diseases which are associated with cardiac remodelling include but are not limited to hereditary hypertrophic cardiomyopythies (such as familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) or Morbus Fabry disease.

[0027] Cardiac hypertrophy is defined as an increase in size of the heart without any increase in myocyte number. This results in a thickening of the heart walls. Pathological cardiac hypertrophy occurs in response to haemodynamic overload due to different forms of stress, such as hypertension, valve disease, and myocardial infarction (MI). Prolonged hypertrophic growth of the heart results in cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure and may lead to sudden death (Frey and Olso (2003), Annu Rev Physiol; 65: 45-79). Thus, cardiac hypertrophy is in accordance with the invention unhealthy cardiac hypertrophy (or pathological hypertrophy), such as cardiac hypertrophy in response to stress or disease, e.g., hypertension, heart muscle injury (myocardial infarction), heart failure or neurohormones.

[0028] Fibrosis, in general, is a scarring process which is characterized by fibroblast proliferation and excess deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, which leads to distorted organ architecture and function. Cardiac fibrosis thus refers to the proliferation of fibroblasts and an excess deposition of ECM proteins (in particular collagen) in the cardiac muscle. The proliferation of the fibroblasts generally leads to abnormal thickening of the heart, in particular the heart valves. The fibrotic ECM causes increased stiffness and induces pathological signaling within cardiomyocytes resulting in progressive cardiac failure. Also, the excessive ECM impairs mechano-electric coupling of cardiomyocytes and increases the risk of arrhythmias. Fibroblasts are principally responsible for deposition of the excessive fibrotic ECM and activated fibroblasts may directly cause hypertrophy of cardiomyocytes via paracrine mechanisms further contributing to impaired cardiac function (Krenning et al. (2010), J Cell Physiol; 225(3):631-637).

[0029] In accordance with a more preferred embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, the cardiac hypertrophy is ventricular hypertrophy, preferably left ventricular hypertrophy, and/or the cardiac fibrosis is ventricular fibrosis, preferably left ventricular fibrosis.

[0030] Most cases of cardiac hypertrophies as well as most cases of cardiac fibrosis affect the heart ventricles. Although left ventricular hypertrophy and fibrosis is more common, cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis can also occur in the right ventricle or both ventricles. The ventricles are the chambers in the heart responsible for pumping blood either to the lungs (right ventricle) or to the rest of the body (left ventricle).

[0031] In accordance with a further preferred embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, Meg3 comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21.

[0032] The term "nucleic acid sequence" or "nucleotide sequence", in accordance with the present disclosure, includes DNA and RNA. SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 are sequences of the IncRNA Meg3 and therefore single-stranded RNA sequences. As will be further detailed herein below, nucleotide-based compounds inhibiting the expression of Meg3 may comprise DNA sequences (e.g. LNA GapmeRs) or RNA sequences (e.g. siRNAs). As will be also further detailed herein below, nucleotide-based compounds inhibiting the expression of Meg3 may be single stranded (e.g. LNA GapmeRs) or double-stranded (e.g. siRNAs). The term "nucleic acid sequence" is interchangeably used in accordance with the disclosure with the term "polynucleotide sequence". Short "nucleic acid sequence" are also referred to herein as "oligonucleotide sequences". Oligonucleotide sequences are less than 50 nucleotides in length, preferably less than 40 nucleotides and most preferably less than 30 nucleotides.

[0033] In human at least 12 different isoforms of MEG3 are generated by alternative splicing (Zhang et al. (2010), Endocrinology; 151(3):939-947). Also in mouse multiple isoforms of Meg3 were found (Schuster-Gossler et al. (1998), Dev Dyn; 212(2):214-28). Herein, SEQ ID NOs 1 to 7 represent the so far known seven different isoforms of mouse Meg3 (designated herein mouse Meg3 isoforms 1 to 7). All seven mouse isoforms share the core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 8 which core sequence corresponds to exon 5 of the mouse Meg3 gene. SEQ ID NOs 9 to 20 represent the known twelve different isoforms of human Meg3 (designated herein human Meg3 isoforms 1 to 12). All twelve human isoforms share the core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 21 which core sequence corresponds to exon 5 of the human Meg3 gene. The core sequences of mouse and human Meg3 is evolutionarily highly conserved with a sequence identity of 89%. It is accordingly preferred that Meg3 comprises the nucleic acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 8 or SEQ ID NO: 21, and more preferably comprises the human Meg3 core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 21. SEQ ID NOs 1 to 7 and 9 to 20 comprise sequences of more than 200 nucleotides; i.e. sequences ranging from 706 to 14548 nucleotides. SEQ ID NOs 1 to 7 and 9 to 20 are therefore IncRNAs.

[0034] It is also described herein that the compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of Meg3 may be a small molecule inhibitor, a nucleotide-based inhibitor or an amino acid-based inhibitor.

[0035] A small molecule inhibitor is a low molecular weight organic compound which is by definition not a polymer. The small molecule of the disclosure is a molecule that binds with high affinity to Meg3 and in addition inhibits the activity of Meg3. The upper molecular weight limit for a small molecule is preferably 1500Da, more preferably 1000Da and most preferably 800Da which allows for the possibility to rapidly diffuse across cell membranes so that they can reach intracellular sites of action. Libraries of small organic molecules and high-throughput techniques for screening such libraries with a specific target molecule, in the present case the IncRNA Meg3, and preferably a polynucleotide selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. By targeting the mouse Meg3 core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 8 it is possible to inhibit all known mouse Meg3 isoforms and by targeting the human Meg3 core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 21 it is possible to inhibit all known human Meg3 isoforms. Given the sequence homology of 89% of SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 it may also be possible to target mouse and human Meg3 isoforms by a single small molecule inhibitor.

[0036] A nucleotide-based inhibitor comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence. The nucleic acid is preferably complementary to a nucleic acid sequence of at least 12 contiguous nucleotides of one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. The nucleotide-based inhibitor may comprise or consist of RNA, DNA or both. The nucleotide-based inhibitor of the disclosure is a molecule that binds specifically to Meg3 and in addition inhibits the activity of Meg3. As used herein specific binding means that the inhibitor specifically targets the IncRNA Meg3 and does substantially not exert any off target inhibitory effects, in particular on other cellular nucleic acid molecules. It is to be understood that a nucleotide-based inhibitor specifically binding to SEQ ID NO: 8 is capable of inhibiting all known mouse Meg3 isoforms and a nucleotide-based inhibitor specifically binding to SEQ ID NO: 21 is capable of specifically inhibiting all known human Meg3 isoforms. Given the sequence homology of 89% of SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 it may also be possible to select or design a nucleotide-based inhibitor specifically inhibiting the mouse and human Meg3 isoforms.

[0037] An amino acid-based inhibitor comprises or consists of an amino acid sequence and preferably an amino acid sequence of at least 25, more preferably at least 50 amino acids. The amino acid-based inhibitor of the disclosure is a molecule that binds specifically to Meg3 and in addition inhibits the activity of Meg3. The amino acid-based inhibitor preferably comprises natural amino acids but may also comprise unnatural amino acids. The amino acid-based inhibitor is preferably selected or designed such that it specifically binds to a nucleic acid sequence selected from one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. An amino acid-based inhibitor specifically binding to SEQ ID NO: 8 is capable of specifically inhibiting all known mouse Meg3 isoforms and an amino acid-based inhibitor specifically binding to SEQ ID NO: 21 is capable of specifically inhibiting all known human Meg3 isoforms. Given the sequence homology of 89% of SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 it may also be possible to select or design an amino acid-based inhibitor specifically inhibiting the mouse and human Meg3 isoforms.

[0038] It is also described herein that the nucleotide-based inhibitor may be an aptamer, a ribozyme and that the amino acid-based inhibitor may be an antibody or a protein drug.

[0039] The aptamer, ribozyme, antibody, protein drug, siRNA, a shRNA or an antisense oligonucleotide of this aspect specifically bind to Meg3, thereby inhibiting the activity of Meg3.

[0040] The term "aptamer" in accordance with the present disclosure refers to DNA or RNA molecules being either in the natural D-conformation or in the L-conformation ("spiegelmer") that have been selected from random pools based on their ability to bind other molecules. Aptamers have been selected which bind nucleic acid, proteins, small organic compounds, and even entire organisms. A database of aptamers is maintained at http://aptamer.icmb.utexas.edu/. More specifically, aptamers can be classified as DNA or RNA aptamers or peptide aptamers. Whereas the former consist of (usually short) strands of oligonucleotides, the latter consist of a short variable peptide domain, attached at both ends to a protein scaffold. Nucleic acid aptamers are nucleic acid species that have been engineered through repeated rounds of in vitro selection or equivalently, SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) to bind to various molecular targets such as small molecules, proteins, nucleic acids, and even cells, tissues and organisms. The molecular target envisaged by the present disclosure is a nucleic acid, namely the IncRNA Meg3. Hence, aptamers can be produced against the target molecule described herein. Aptamers offer the utility for biotechnological and therapeutic applications as they offer molecular recognition properties that rival those of the commonly used biomolecules, in particular antibodies. In addition to their discriminate recognition, aptamers offer advantages over antibodies as they can be engineered completely in a test tube, are readily produced by chemical synthesis, possess desirable storage properties, and elicit little or no immunogenicity in therapeutic applications. Non-modified aptamers are cleared rapidly from the bloodstream, with a half-life of minutes to hours, mainly due to nuclease degradation and clearance from the body by the kidneys, a result of the aptamer's inherently low molecular weight. The rapid clearance of aptamers can be an advantage in applications such as in vivo diagnostic imaging. Several modifications, such as 2'-fluorine-substituted pyrimidines, polyethylene glycol (PEG) linkage, etc. are available to scientists with which the half-life of aptamers easily can be increased to the day or even week time scale.

[0041] The term "ribozymes" refers to RNA molecules that act as enzymes in the absence of proteins. These RNA molecules act catalytic or autocatalytic and are capable of cleaving e.g. other RNAs at specific target sites but they have also been found to catalyze the aminotransferase activity of the ribosome. Selection of appropriate target sites and corresponding ribozymes can be done as described for example in Zaher and Unrau (2007), RNA, 13 (7): 1017-1026. Examples of well-characterized small self-cleaving RNAs are the hammerhead, hairpin, hepatitis delta virus, and in vitro-selected lead-dependent ribozymes. The organization of these small catalysts is in contrast to that of larger ribozymes, such as the group I intron. The principle of catalytic self-cleavage has become well established in the last 10 years. The hammerhead ribozymes are characterized best among the RNA molecules with ribozyme activity. Since it was shown that hammerhead structures can be integrated into heterologous RNA sequences and that ribozyme activity can thereby be transferred to these molecules, it appears that catalytic sequences for almost any target sequence can be created, provided the target sequence contains a potential matching cleavage site. The basic principle of constructing hammerhead ribozymes is as follows: An interesting region of the RNA, which contains the GUC (or CUC) triplet, is selected. Two oligonucleotide strands, each with 6 to 8 nucleotides, are taken and the catalytic hammerhead sequence is inserted between them. Molecules of this type were synthesized for numerous target sequences. They showed catalytic activity in vitro and in some cases also in vivo. The best results are usually obtained with short ribozymes and target sequences. Since the target sequence is in accordance with the present disclosure a RNA sequence, Meg3 is a bona fide target for the generation of ribozymes being capable to specifically cleave Meg3.

[0042] The aptamers and ribozymes may comprise modified nucleotides, such as locked nucleic acids (LNAs).

[0043] The term "antibody" as used in accordance with the present disclosure comprises, for example, polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies. Furthermore, also derivatives or fragments thereof, which still retain the binding specificity, are comprised in the term "antibody". Antibody fragments or derivatives comprise, inter alia, Fab or Fab' fragments, Fd, F(ab')2, Fv or scFv fragments, single domain VH or V-like domains, such as VhH or V-NAR-domains, as well as multimeric formats such as minibodies, diabodies, tribodies, tetrabodies or chemically conjugated Fab'-multimers (see, for example, Altshuler et al., Biochemistry (Mosc). 2010 Dec; 75(13):1584-605, Holliger and Hudson, Nat Biotechnol., 2005; 23(9):1126-36). The term "antibody" also includes formats such as chimeric (human constant domain, non-human variable domain), single chain and humanized (human antibody with the exception of non-human CDRs) antibodies. Various techniques for the production of antibodies and fragments thereof are well known in the art and described, e.g. in Altshuler et al., Biochemistry (Mosc). 2010 Dec; 75(13):1584-605. Thus, polyclonal antibodies can be obtained from the blood of an animal following immunisation with an antigen in mixture with additives and adjuvans and monoclonal antibodies can be produced by any technique which provides antibodies produced by continuous cell line cultures. Examples for such techniques are described, e.g. Harlow and Lane, Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1988 and Harlow and Lane, Using Antibodies: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 1999 and include the hybridoma technique originally described by Kohler and Milstein, Nature 256 (1975), 495-497, the trioma technique, the human B-cell hybridoma technique (see e.g. Kozbor, Immunology Today 4 (1983), 72; Milstein, C (1999), BioEssays 21 (11): 966-73.) and the EBV-hybridoma technique to produce human monoclonal antibodies (Cole et al., Monoclonal Antibodies and Cancer Therapy, Alan R. Liss, Inc. (1985), 77-96). Furthermore, recombinant antibodies may be obtained from monoclonal antibodies or can be prepared de novo using various display methods such as phage, ribosomal, mRNA, or cell display. A suitable system for the expression of the recombinant (humanized) antibodies or fragments thereof may be selected from, for example, bacteria, yeast, insects, mammalian cell lines or transgenic animals or plants (see, e.g., US patent 6,080,560; Holliger and Hudson, Nat Biotechnol., 2005; 23(9):1126-36). Further, techniques described for the production of single chain antibodies (see, inter alia, US Patent 4,946,778) can be adapted to produce single chain antibodies specific for the target of this disclosure. Surface plasmon resonance as employed in the BIAcore system can be used to increase the efficiency of phage antibodies.

[0044] The term "protein drug" designates designer drugs that are derivatives of human proteins. These proteins are used as scaffold to create a protein drug by well-established screening procedures (see Tomlinson et al (2004), Nature Biotechnology, 22(5): 521-522). Non-limiting examples of human proteins which serve as a scaffold for designing protein drugs are transferrin, C-type lectins, trinectins, domain antibodies, kunitz domains, lipocalins and the Fyn SH3 domain.

[0045] The antisense technology for the downregulation of RNA is well-established and widely used in the art to treat various diseases. The basic idea of the antisense technology is the use of oligonucleotides for silencing a selected target RNA through the exquisite specificity of complementary-based pairing (Re, Ochsner J. 2000 Oct; 2(4): 233-236). Herein below details on the antisense construct compound classes of siRNAs, shRNAs and antisense oligonucleotides will be provided. As will be further detailed herein below, antisense oligonucleotides are single stranded antisense constructs while siRNAs and shRNAs are double stranded antisense constructs with one strand comprising an antisense oligonucleotide sequence being (i.e. the so-called antisense strand). All these compound classes may be used to achieve downregulation or inhibition of a target RNA.

[0046] In accordance with the present disclosure the target of antisense constructs in general as well as all the specific classes of antisense constructs being described herein is the IncRNA Meg3. Accordingly, the target is preferably a nucleic acid sequence selected from one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. By targeting SEQ ID NO: 8 it is possible to downregulate all known mouse Meg3 isoforms and by targeting SEQ ID NO: 21 it is possible to downregulate all known human Meg3 isoforms. Given the sequence homology of 89% of SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 it may also be possible to target mouse and human Meg3 isoforms by a single antisense construct.

[0047] With respect to SEQ ID NO: 21 as well as with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 20 (which comprise the core sequence of SEQ ID NO: 21) it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the part of SEQ ID NO: 21 being shown in the 18 nucleotides of SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence of SEQ ID NO: 22. The part of the human Meg3 core sequence as show in SEQ ID NO: 22 is 100% identical to the DNM3 opposite strand/antisense RNA, the miRNA 3120 and the miRNA 214. Hence, in case the target is SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof off target effects cannot be excluded. A partial overlap of the complementary nucleic acid sequence of or comprised by an antisense construct with SEQ ID NO: 22 is generally acceptable as long as specific inhibition of Meg3 without off target effects is achieved. It is a matter of routine in the field of antisense technology to design an antisense construct with a sufficient number of nucleotide mismatches to any off target in order to ensure that no off targets become downregulated.

[0048] The term "siRNA" in accordance with the present disclosure refers to small interfering RNA, also known as short interfering RNA or silencing RNA. siRNAs are a class of 12 to 30, preferably 18 to 30, more preferably 20 to 25, and most preferred 21 to 23 or 21 nucleotide-long double-stranded RNA molecules that play a variety of roles in biology. Most notably, siRNA is involved in the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway where the siRNA interferes with the expression of a specific gene. In addition to their role in the RNAi pathway, siRNAs also act in RNAi-related pathways, e.g. as an antiviral mechanism or in shaping the chromatin structure of a genome. siRNAs have a well defined structure: a short double-strand of RNA (dsRNA), advantageously with at least one RNA strand having an overhang. Each strand typically has a 5' phosphate group and a 3' hydroxyl (-OH) group. This structure is the result of processing by dicer, an enzyme that converts either long dsRNAs or small hairpin RNAs into siRNAs. siRNAs can also be exogenously (artificially) introduced into cells to bring about the specific knockdown of a gene of interest. Thus, any gene of which the sequence is known can in principle be targeted based on sequence complementarity with an appropriately tailored siRNA. The double-stranded RNA molecule or a metabolic processing product thereof is capable of mediating target-specific nucleic acid modifications, particularly RNA interference and/or DNA methylation. Also preferably at least one RNA strand has a 5'- and/or 3'-overhang. Preferably, one or both ends of the double-strand have a 3'-overhang from 1-5 nucleotides, more preferably from 1-3 nucleotides and most preferably 2 nucleotides. In general, any RNA molecule suitable to act as siRNA is envisioned in the present disclosure. The most efficient silencing was so far obtained with siRNA duplexes composed of 21-nt sense and 21-nt antisense strands, paired in a manner to have 2-nt 3'- overhangs. The sequence of the 2-nt 3' overhang makes a small contribution to the specificity of target recognition restricted to the unpaired nucleotide adjacent to the first base pair (Elbashir et al. Nature. 2001 May 24; 411(6836):494-8). 2'-deoxynucleotides in the 3' overhangs are as efficient as ribonucleotides, but are often cheaper to synthesize and probably more nuclease resistant. The siRNA according to the disclosure comprises an antisense strand which comprises or consists of a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, or at least 21 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, or at least 21 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof.

[0049] A preferred example of a siRNA is an Endoribonuclease-prepared siRNA (esiRNA). An esiRNA is a mixture of siRNA oligos resulting from cleavage of a long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) with an endoribonuclease such as Escherichia coli RNase III or dicer. esiRNAs are an alternative concept to the usage of chemically synthesized siRNA for RNA Interference (RNAi). For the generation of esiRNAs a cDNA of an IncRNA template may be amplified by PCR and tagged with two bacteriophage-promotor sequences. RNA polymerase is then used to generate long double stranded RNA that is complentary to the target-gene cDNA. This complentary RNA may be subsequently digested with RNase III from Escherichia coli to generate short overlapping fragments of siRNAs with a length between 18-25 base pairs. This complex mixture of short double stranded RNAs is similar to the mixture generated by dicer cleavage in vivo and is therefore called endoribonuclease-prepared siRNA or short esiRNA. Hence, esiRNA are a heterogeneous mixture of siRNAs that all target the same mRNA sequence. esiRNAs lead to highly specific and effective gene silencing.

[0050] A "shRNA" in accordance with the present disclosure is a short hairpin RNA, which is a sequence of RNA that makes a (tight) hairpin turn that can also be used to silence gene expression via RNA interference. shRNA preferably utilizes the U6 promoter for its expression. The shRNA hairpin structure is cleaved by the cellular machinery into siRNA, which is then bound to the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC). This complex binds to and cleaves mRNAs which match the shRNA that is bound to it. The shRNA according to the disclosure comprises an antisense strand which comprises or consists of a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, or at least 21 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof.

[0051] The term "antisense oligonucleotide" in accordance with the present disclosure refers to a single-stranded nucleotide sequence being complementary by virtue of Watson-Crick base pair hybridization to the IncRNA Meg3 whereby the activity of Meg3 is blocked. The antisense oligonucleotides may be unmodified or chemically modified. In general, they are relatively short (preferably between 13 and 25 nucleotides). Moreover, they are specific for Meg3, i.e. they hybridize to a unique sequence in the total pool of targets present in the target cells/organism. The antisense oligonucleotide according to the disclosure comprises or consists a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides, at least 22 nucleotides, at least 23 nucleotides, at least 24 nucleotides, or at least 25 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides, at least 22 nucleotides, at least 23 nucleotides, at least 24 nucleotides, or at least 25 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof.

[0052] The antisense oligonucleotide is preferably a LNA-GapmeR, an Antagomir, or an antimiR.

[0053] LNA-GapmeRs or simply GapmeRs are potent antisense oligonucleotides used for highly efficient inhibition of mRNA and IncRNA function. GapmeRs function by RNase H dependent degradation of complementary RNA targets. They are an excellent alternative to siRNA for knockdown of mRNA and IncRNA. They are advantageously taken up by cell without transfection reagents. GapmeRs contain a central stretch of DNA monomers flanked by blocks of LNAs. The GapmeRs are preferably 14-16 nucleotides in length and are optionally fully phosphorothioated. The DNA gap activates the RNAse H-mediated degradation of targeted RNAs and is also suitable to target transcripts directly in the nucleus. The LNA-GapmeR according to the disclosure comprises a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, or at least 15 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, or at least 15 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. A LNA-GapmeR targeting the mouse Meg3 nucleotides of SEQ ID NO: 23 is used in the below examples of the present application to downregulate the IncRNA Meg3. SEQ ID NO: 24 shows the human Meg3 nucleotides corresponding to the mouse Meg3 nucleotides of SEQ ID NO: 23. Accordingly, the LNA-GapmeR according to the disclosure comprises more preferably a sequence which is complementary to SEQ ID NO: 23 or SEQ ID NO: 24, and most preferably to SEQ ID NO: 24. In the below examples the three anti-human Meg3 LNA-GapmeRs of SEQ ID NOs 71, 72 and 73 are used to downregulate the IncRNA Meg3 in human cardiac fibroblasts. Accordingly, the LNA-GapmeR according to the disclosure also comprises most preferably a sequence of any one of SEQ ID NOs 71 to 73. Among SEQ ID NOs 71 to 73 SEQ ID NO: 71 is most preferred. The LNA-GapmeR technology is well established. LNA-GapmeRs are routinely designed using established algorithms. LNA-GapmeRs to a selected target are commercially available including positive and negative controls, for example, from Exiqon.

[0054] As mentioned, AntimiRs are oligonucleotide inhibitors that were initially designed to be complementary to a miRNA. AntimiRs against miRNAs have been used extensively as tools to gain understanding of specific miRNA functions and as potential therapeutics. As used herein, the AntimiRs are designed to be complementary to the IncRNA Meg3. AntimiRs are preferably 14 to 23 nucleotides in length. An AntimiR according to the disclosure more preferably comprises or consists a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides, at least 22 nucleotides, or at least 23 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides, at least 22 nucleotides, or at least 23 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO.

[0055] AntimiRs are preferably AntagomiRs. AntagomiRs are synthetic 2-O-methyl RNA oligonucleotides, preferably of 21 to 23 nucleotides which are preferably fully complementary to the selected target RNA. While AntagomiRs were initially designed against miRNAs they may also be designed against IncRNAs. The AntagomiRs according to the disclosure therefore preferably comprises a sequence being complementary to 21 to 23 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These 21 to 23 nucleotides are preferably complementary to a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. AntagomiRs are preferably synthesized with 2'-OMe modified bases (2'-hydroxyl of the ribose is replaced with a methoxy group), phosphorothioate (phosphodiester linkages are changed to phosphorothioates) on the first two and last four bases, and an addition of cholesterol motif at 3' end through a hydroxyprolinol modified linkage. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. The addition of 2'-OMe and phosphorothioate modifications improve the bio-stability whereas cholesterol conjugation enhances distribution and cell permeation of the AntagomiRs.

[0056] Antisense molecules (including antisense oligonucleotides, such as LNA-GapmeR, an Antagomir, an antimiR), siRNAs and shRNAs of the present disclosure are preferably chemically synthesized using a conventional nucleic acid synthesizer. Suppliers of nucleic acid sequence synthesis reagents include Proligo (Hamburg, Germany), Dharmacon Research (Lafayette, CO, USA), Pierce Chemical (part of Perbio Science, Rockford, IL, USA), Glen Research (Sterling, VA, USA), ChemGenes (Ashland, MA, USA), and Cruachem (Glasgow, UK).

[0057] The ability of antisense molecules (including antisense oligonucleotides, such as LNA-GapmeR, an Antagomir, an antimiR), siRNA, and shRNA to potently, but reversibly, silence or inhibit a IncRNA in vivo makes these molecules particularly well suited for use in the pharmaceutical composition of the disclosure. Ways of administering siRNA to humans are described in De Fougerolles et al., Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 2008, 8:280-285. Such ways are also suitable for administering other small RNA molecules like antisense oligonucleotides or shRNAs. Accordingly, such pharmaceutical compositions may be administered directly formulated as a saline, via liposome based and polymer-based nanoparticle approaches, as conjugated or complexation pharmaceutical compositions, or via viral delivery systems. Direct administration comprises injection into tissue, intranasal and intratracheal administration. Liposome based and polymer-based nanoparticle approaches comprise the cationic lipid Genzyme Lipid (GL) 67, cationic liposomes, chitosan nanoparticles and cationic cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). Conjugated or complexation pharmaceutical compositions comprise PEI-complexed antisense molecules (including antisense oligonucleotides), siRNA, or shRNA. Further, viral delivery systems comprise influenza virus envelopes and virosomes.

[0058] The antisense molecules (including antisense oligonucleotides, such as LNA-GapmeR, an Antagomir, an antimiR), siRNAs, shRNAs may comprise modified nucleotides such as locked nucleic acids (LNAs). The ribose moiety of an LNA nucleotide is modified with an extra bridge connecting the 2' oxygen and 4' carbon. The bridge "locks" the ribose in the 3'-endo (North) conformation, which is often found in the A-form duplexes. LNA nucleotides can be mixed with DNA or RNA residues in the oligonucleotide whenever desired. Such oligomers are synthesized chemically and are commercially available. The locked ribose conformation enhances base stacking and backbone pre-organization. This significantly increases the hybridization properties (melting temperature) of oligonucleotides.

[0059] In accordance with the inventioninhibitor may comprise (a) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence being complementary to at least 12 continuous nucleotides of a nucleic acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, (b) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence which is at least 70% identical to the complementary strand of one or more nucleic acid sequences selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21, (c) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence according to (a) or (b), wherein the nucleic acid sequence is DNA or RNA, (d) an expression vector expressing the nucleic acid sequence as defined in any one of (a) to (c), preferably under the control of a heart-specific promoter and/or a fibroblast-specific promoter, or (e) a host comprising the expression vector of (d).

[0060] The nucleic acid sequences as defined in items (a) to (c) of the invention comprise or consist of sequences being complementary to nucleotides of the Meg3 as defined by one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. Hence, the nucleic acid sequences as defined in items (a) to (c) comprise or are antisense nucleic acid sequences.

[0061] The nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) of the invention comprises or consists of a sequence which is with increasing preference complementary to at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, at least 21 nucleotides of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. These at least 13 nucleotides, at least 14 nucleotides, at least 15 nucleotides, at least 16 nucleotides, at least 17 nucleotides, at least 18 nucleotides, at least 19 nucleotides, at least 20 nucleotides, or at least 21 nucleotides are preferably a contiguous part of one or more selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 including the preferred target sequences within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 described herein above, i.e. the nucleotides are consecutive in the respective SEQ ID NO. For instance, with respect to SEQ ID NOs 9 to 21 it is furthermore preferred that the antisense construct does not target the subsequence SEQ ID NO: 22 or a subsequence thereof. The format of the nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) is not particularly limited as long as it comprises or consists of at least 12 continuous nucleotides being complementary to a nucleic acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. The nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) comprises or consists of antisense an oligonucleotide. Hence, the nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) reflects the above-mentioned basic principle of the antisense technology which is the use of an oligonucleotide for silencing a selected target RNA through the exquisite specificity of complementary-based pairing. Therefore, it is to be understood that the nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) is preferably in the format of an siRNA, shRNA or an antisense oligonucleotide as defined herein above. The antisense oligonucleotides are preferably LNA-GapmeRs, AntagomiRs, or antimiRs as defined herein above.

[0062] The nucleic acid sequence according to item (b) requiring at least 70% identity to the complementary strand of one or more nucleic acid sequences selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 is considerably longer than the nucleic acid sequence according to item (a) which comprises an antisense oligonucleotide and comprises at least 12 continuous nucleotides of a nucleic acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Among SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 SEQ ID NO: 21 is the shortest sequence and SEQ ID NO: 21 comprises 96 nucleotides. A sequence of at least 70% identity to the complementary strand of SEQ ID NO: 21 accordingly has to comprise at least 68 nucleotides. A nucleic acid sequence according to item (b) of the invention is capable of interacting with, more specifically hybridizing with the target IncRNA Meg3. By formation of the hybrid the function of the IncRNA Meg3 is reduced or blocked.

[0063] The sequence identity of the molecule according to item (b) in connection with a sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 is with increasing preference at least 75%, at least 80%, at least 85%, at least 90%, at least 92.5%, at least 95%, at least 98%, at least 99% and 100%. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 SEQ ID NOs 8 and 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. The sequence identity in connection with each of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 can be individually selected. For instance, a non-limiting example is at least 90% in connection with SEQ ID NO: 8 and at least 95% in connection with SEQ ID NO: 21. Means and methods for determining sequence identity are known in the art. Preferably, the BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) program is used for determining the sequence identity with regard to one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Most preferred examples of nucleic acid sequences which comprise a nucleotide sequence which is at least 70% identical to the complementary strand of one or more of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 are the complementary strands of SEQ ID NO: 8 and/or 21.

[0064] In the nucleic acid sequence according to item (c) the nucleotide sequences may be RNA or DNA. RNA or DNA encompasses chemically modified RNA nucleotides or DNA nucleotides. As commonly known RNA comprises the nucleotide U while DNA comprises the nucleotide T.

[0065] In accordance with items (d) and (e) of the invention the inhibitor may also be an expression vector or host, respectively being capable of producing an nucleic acid sequence as defined in any one of items (a) to (c).

[0066] An expression vector may be a plasmid that is used to introduce a specific transcript into a target cell. Once the expression vector is inside the cell, the protein that is encoded by the gene is produced by the cellular-transcription and translation machinery ribosomal complexes. The plasmid is in general engineered to contain regulatory sequences that act as enhancer and/or promoter regions and lead to efficient transcription of the transcript. In accordance with the present invention the expression vector preferably contains a heart-specific promoter and/or a fibroblast-specific promoter. Heart-specific promoters are known in the art, for example, from Boecker at al. (2004), Mol Imagin.; 3(2):69-75. Using a heart-specific promoter ensures that the nucleic acid sequence is only expressed in the heart and may avoid potential unwanted side effects by expression in other organs. Promoters for fibroblast-specific expression are as well known in the art, e.g., from Takeda et al (2010), J Clin Invest. 2010; 120(1):254-265 or Hemmings et al. (2014), Heart; 100:A19-A20. Using a fibroblast-specific promoter ensures that the nucleic acid sequence is only expressed in fibroblasts and may avoid potential unwanted side effects by expression in other cell-types, such as endothelial cells. The fibroblast-specific promoter described in Takeda et al (2010), loc. lit. is in particular specific for heart fibroblasts. Accordingly, also promoters being heart-specific and a fibroblast-specific are known and are most preferably used as a promoter in the context of the present invention. This is because such a promoter may avoid potential unwanted side effects by expression in other organs as well as in other cell-types.

[0067] Non-limiting examples of expression vectors include prokaryotic plasmid vectors, such as the pUC-series, pBluescript (Stratagene), the pET-series of expression vectors (Novagen) or pCRTOPO (Invitrogen) and vectors compatible with an expression in mammalian cells like pREP (Invitrogen), pcDNA3 (Invitrogen), pCEP4 (Invitrogen), pMC1neo (Stratagene), pXT1 (Stratagene), pSG5 (Stratagene), EBO-pSV2neo, pBPV-1, pdBPVMMTneo, pRSVgpt, pRSVneo, pSV2-dhfr, plZD35, pLXIN, pSIR (Clontech), pIRES-EGFP (Clontech), pEAK-10 (Edge Biosystems) pTriEx-Hygro (Novagen) and pCINeo (Promega). Examples for plasmid vectors suitable for Pichia pastoris comprise e.g. the plasmids pAO815, pPIC9K and pPIC3.5K (all Intvitrogen). For the formulation of a pharmaceutical composition a suitable vector is selected in accordance with good manufacturing practice. Such vectors are known in the art, for example, from Ausubel et al, Hum Gene Ther. 2011 Apr; 22(4):489-97 or Allay et al., Hum Gene Ther. May 2011; 22(5): 595-604.

[0068] A typical mammalian expression vector contains the promoter element; which mediates the initiation of transcription of mRNA, the protein coding sequence, and signals required for the termination of transcription and polyadenylation of the transcript. Moreover, elements such as origin of replication, drug resistance gene, regulators (as part of an inducible promoter) may also be included. The lac promoter is a typical inducible promoter, useful for prokaryotic cells, which can be induced using the lactose analogue isopropylthiol-b-D-galactoside ("IPTG"). For recombinant expression and secretion, the polynucleotide of interest may be ligated between e.g. the PelB leader signal, which directs the recombinant protein in the periplasm and the gene III in a phagemid called pHEN4 (described in Ghahroudi et al, 1997, FEBS Letters 414:521-526). Additional elements might include enhancers, Kozak sequences and intervening sequences flanked by donor and acceptor sites for RNA splicing. Highly efficient transcription can be achieved with the early and late promoters from SV40, the long terminal repeats (LTRs) from retroviruses, e.g., RSV, HTLVI, HIVI, and the early promoter of the cytomegalovirus (CMV). However, cellular elements can also be used (e.g., the human actin promoter). Suitable expression vectors for use in practicing the present invention include, for example, vectors such as pSVL and pMSG (Pharmacia, Uppsala, Sweden), pRSVcat (ATCC 37152), pSV2dhfr (ATCC 37146) and pBC12MI (ATCC 67109). Alternatively, the recombinant (poly)peptide can be expressed in stable cell lines that contain the gene construct integrated into a chromosome. The co-transfection with a selectable marker such as dhfr, gpt, neomycin, hygromycin allows the identification and isolation of the transfected cells. The transfected nucleic acid can also be amplified to express large amounts of the encoded (poly)peptide. The DHFR (dihydrofolate reductase) marker is useful to develop cell lines that carry several hundred or even several thousand copies of the gene of interest. Another useful selection marker is the enzyme glutamine synthase (GS) (Murphy et al.1991, Biochem J. 227:277-279; Bebbington et al. 1992, Bio/Technology 10:169-175). Using these markers, the mammalian cells are grown in selective medium and the cells with the highest resistance are selected. As indicated above, the expression vectors will preferably include at least one selectable marker. Such markers include dihydrofolate reductase, G418 or neomycin resistance for eukaryotic cell culture and tetracycline, kanamycin or ampicillin resistance genes for culturing in E. coli and other bacteria. For vector modification techniques, see Sambrook and Russel (2001), Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 3 Vol. Generally, vectors can contain one or more origins of replication (ori) and inheritance systems for cloning or expression, one or more markers for selection in the host, e.g., antibiotic resistance, and one or more expression cassettes. Suitable origins of replication (ori) include, for example, the Col E1, the SV40 viral and the M 13 origins of replication.

[0069] The sequences to be inserted into the vector can e.g. be synthesized by standard methods, or isolated from natural sources. Ligation of the coding sequences to transcriptional regulatory elements and/or to other amino acid encoding sequences can be carried out using established methods. Transcriptional regulatory elements (parts of an expression cassette) ensuring expression in prokaryotes or eukaryotic cells are well known to those skilled in the art. These elements comprise regulatory sequences ensuring the initiation of the transcription (e.g., translation initiation codon, promoters, enhancers, and/or insulators), internal ribosomal entry sites (IRES) (Owens, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98 (2001), 1471-1476) and optionally poly-A signals ensuring termination of transcription and stabilization of the transcript. Additional regulatory elements may include transcriptional as well as translational enhancers, and/or naturally-associated or heterologous promoter regions. Preferably, the nucleotide sequence as defined in item (a) of the invention is operatively linked to such expression control sequences allowing expression in prokaryotic or eukaryotic cells.

[0070] The host may be a prokaryotic or eukaryotic cell. A suitable eukaryotic host may be a mammalian cell, an amphibian cell, a fish cell, an insect cell, a fungal cell or a plant cell. Representative examples of bacterial cells are E. coli, Streptomyces and Salmonella typhimurium cells; of fungal cells are yeast cells; and of insect cells are Drosophila S2 and Spodoptera Sf9 cells. It is preferred that the cell is a mammalian cell such as a human cell. Mammalian host cells that could be used include, human Hela, 293, H9 and Jurkat cells, mouse NIH3T3 and C127 cells, Cos 1, Cos 7 and CV1, quail QC1-3 cells, mouse L cells and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. The cell may be a part of a cell line, preferably a human cell line. Appropriate culture mediums and conditions for the above-described host cells are known in the art. The host is preferably a host cell and more preferably an isolated host cell. The host is also preferably a non-human host.

[0071] In a second aspect the present invention relates to a method for diagnosing cardiac remodelling in a patient, comprising (a) detecting the expression level of Meg3 in a sample obtained from said patient, and optionally (b) comparing said expression obtained in (a) with the expression level of Meg3 in a sample obtained from at least one healthy subject or with a predetermined standard that has been obtained from a sample of at least one healthy subject, wherein a greater than 2-fold downregulation of Meg3 is indicative for cardiac remodelling in the patient.

[0072] Also in connection with the second aspect of the present invention the cardiac remodelling is preferably Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF) and/or is preferably Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF), myocardial infarction related cardiac remodelling, genetic cardiac disease associated cardiac remodelling, cardiac hypertrophy and/or cardiac fibrosis. The cardiac hypertrophy is preferably ventricular hypertrophy, more preferably left ventricular hypertrophy, and/or the cardiac fibrosis is preferably ventricular fibrosis, more preferably left ventricular fibrosis.

[0073] Moreover, also in connection with the second aspect of the present invention Meg3 preferably comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 SEQ ID NO: 8 and SEQ ID NO: 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. By detecting SEQ ID NO: 8 all mouse Meg3 isoforms may be detected simultaneously and by detecting SEQ ID NO: 21 all human Meg3 isoforms may be detected simultaneously. In this connection it is to be understood that the method according to the second aspect of the invention may also encompass detecting and comparing the expression level of one or more IncRNAs being with increased preference at least 90%, at least 92%, at least 94%, at least 96%, at least 98%, at least 99%, and at least 99.5% identical to any one of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. The method according to the second aspect of the invention may furthermore encompass detecting and comparing the expression level of one or more IncRNAs differing with increasing preference by no more than 10, such as 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 nucleotide(s) from any one of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. The nucleotide differences may be the addition, deletion and/or substitution of nucleotide(s). The sequences the expression of which is compared, while being homologous, may also differ from each other with increasing preference by no more than 10, such as 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 nucleotide(s).

[0074] The term "sample" designates a tissue sample or a body fluid sample. The body fluid sample is preferably selected from blood, serum, plasma, urine, salvia, amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid and lymph. The tissue sample is preferably an organ sample, preferably a heart sample. As far as the method is applied to a body fluid sample it is to be understood that the expression level of the IncRNA Meg3 corresponds to the concentration of the IncRNA Meg3, because IncRNAs are not directly expressed in the body fluid but secreted from the cells, said cells expressing the IncRNAs, into the body fluids.

[0075] The "patient" or "subject" referred to herein is preferably human.

[0076] The term "detecting the expression level of Meg3" means determining the amount or yield of Meg3. Meg3 is initially expressed within a cell, in particular a heart fibroblast. It was found in accordance with the present invention that the IncRNA Meg3 can be detected in the sample of a patient, in particular a heart tissue sample. Meg3 being "expressed in a sample" is therefore Meg3 whose expression level can be detected in the sample by means and methods being further detailed herein below. Meg3 is downregulated in a test sample if the amount or yield of the Meg3 is significantly less as compared to the amount or yield of Meg3 in a control sample.

[0077] In accordance with the above described diagnostic method the control sample is either a sample obtained from at least one healthy subject or a predetermined standard that has been obtained from a sample of at least one healthy subject. A healthy subject in particular a healthy subject with no heart condition can be routinely identified by a physician. The at least one healthy subject is with increasing preference at least two, at least three, at least five, and at least ten healthy subjects. By employing more than one healthy subject individual Meg3 expression level differences may be balanced. With respect to the use of a predetermined standard it is noted that within the context of the diagnostic method of the invention is not or not always necessary to determine the Meg3 expression level in a sample of at least one healthy subject. Once Meg3 expression levels obtained from a sample of at least one healthy subject are available they may be used in the diagnostic method of the invention as a predetermined standard.

[0078] The expression level in the samples can be quantified by any suitable means and methods available from the art. In general relative and absolute quantification means and methods can be used. In absolute quantification no known standards or controls are needed. The expression level can be directly quantified. As well-known in the art, absolute quantification may rely on a predetermined standard curve. In relative quantification the expression level is quantified relative to a reference (such as known control expressions levels). Also in the absence of controls, one can relatively quantify the expression level when comparing e.g. fluorescence intensities.

[0079] Methods to assess RNA concentration may, for example, comprise measuring the fluorescence intensity of dyes that bind to nucleic acids and selectively fluoresce when bound. Such methods comprise a reverse transcription reaction and the production of cDNA, wherein the amount of the cDNA is determined thereby indirectly determining the amount of the RNA. The fluorescent-based method is particularly useful for cases where the RNA concentration is too low to accurately assess some with spectrophotometry and/or in cases where contaminants absorbing at 260nm make accurate quantification by spectrophotometry difficult or impossible.

[0080] When comparing the expression level of a IncRNA between different samples reliability of the comparison is preferably improved by including an invariant endogenous control (expression of a reference gene) to correct for potential sample to sample variations. Such normalization with respect to an invariant endogenous control is routinely performed in the art. For example, means and methods for expression level normalization, e.g. in real-time RT-PCR (see, for example, Bustin, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, (2002) 29, 23-39) or micro-array expression analysis (see, for example, Calza and Balwitan, Methods Mol Biol. 2010;673:37-52) are well-established. Also methods for normalization of the expression levels of small RNA sequences are established (see, for example, Mestdagh et al. (2009) Genome Biol.; 10(6):R64). In case RT-PCR or a micro-array is used to determine the expression levels in accordance with the present invention, the expression levels are preferably normalized to a spiked-in RNA (see, for example, McCormick et al. (2011), Silence, 2:2). Known amounts of a spiked-in RNA are mixed with the sample during preparation. More preferably the RNA is externally spiked-in to the sample before the RNA isolation process is carried out. The spiked-in RNA technology is well-known and commercial kits are available from a number of manufacturers. The spiked-in RNA is preferably a spiked-in C. elegans RNA.

[0081] In the examples herein below the primer pair of SEQ ID NOs 25 and 26 was employed in order to detect the expression level of mouse Meg3 and the primer pair of SEQ ID NOs 59 and 60 was employed in order to detect the expression level of human Meg3, wherein the uneven number is the forward primer and the even number is the reverse primer. One of these primer pairs is preferably used in the diagnostic method according to the second aspect of the invention. One of these primer pairs is likewise preferably incorporated into the kit of the invention being described herein below.

[0082] The greater than 2-fold downregulation is with increasing preference greater than 3-fold downregulation, greater than 4-fold downregulation, greater than 5-fold downregulation, greater than 6-fold downregulation, greater than 7-fold downregulation and greater than 8-fold downregulation. The higher thresholds for the downregulation may increase the reliability of the method of the second aspect of the invention.

[0083] As discussed in greater detail herein above, it is shown in the examples that Meg3 expression in the course of TAC is downregulated 6 weeks after the pressure overload and thereafter. From the 6th week onward also cardiac remodelling occurs as an adaptive response of the heart to the induced pressure overload. For this reason it can be expected that an at least 2-fold downregulation of Meg3 expression in a test patient as compared to Meg3 expression of at least one healthy subject or a predetermined standard that has been obtained from a sample of at least one healthy subject is indicative for cardiac remodelling. Measuring Meg3 expression levels is thus expected to be useful for diagnosing cardiac remodelling.

[0084] In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention the sample is a heart tissue sample. In accordance with a more preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention the heart tissue sample comprises or consists of cardiac fibroblasts. In accordance with an even more preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention the heart tissue sample comprises or is the chromatin fraction of heart tissue.

[0085] As can be taken from the examples herein below downregulation of Meg3 is exemplified in a heart tissue sample, in particular in the cardiac fibroblasts of such sample. In the context of the below described examples it was also determined that the IncRNA Meg3 can be found in the chromatin fraction of heart tissue.

[0086] In accordance with a further preferred embodiment of the second aspect of the invention the detection of the expression level of Meg3 comprises (a) quantitative PCR, preferably quantitative real time PCR, or (b) a template/RNA amplification method followed by determining the expression level of Meg3 using a fluorescence- or luminescence-based quantification method.

[0087] In quantitative PCR (qPCR), the amount of amplified product is linked to fluorescence intensity using a fluorescent reporter molecule. The point at which the fluorescent signal is measured in order to calculate the initial template quantity can either be at the end of the reaction (endpoint semi-quantitative PCR) or while the amplification is still progressing (real-time qPCR).

[0088] In endpoint semi-quantitative PCR, fluorescence data are collected after the amplification reaction has been completed, usually after 30-40 cycles, and this final fluorescence is used to back-calculate the amount of template present prior to PCR.

[0089] The more sensitive and reproducible method of real-time qPCR measures the fluorescence at each cycle as the amplification progresses. This allows quantification of the template to be based on the fluorescence signal during the exponential phase of amplification, before limiting reagents, accumulation of inhibitors, or inactivation of the polymerase have started to have an effect on the efficiency of amplification. Fluorescence readings at these earlier cycles of the reaction will measure the amplified template quantity where the reaction is much more reproducible from sample to sample than at the endpoint.

[0090] A non-limiting example of a template/RNA amplification method followed by determining the expression level of the IncRNA Meg3 using a fluorescence- or luminescence-based quantification method is a method combining transcription mediated amplification (TMA) and a hybridization protection assay (HPA). In more detail, such a method may comprise hybridizing one or more oligonucleotides ("capture oligonucleotides") that are complementary to Meg3. The hybridized target sequences are then captured onto magnetic microparticles that are separated from the sample in a magnetic field. Wash steps may be utilized to remove extraneous components. Target amplification typically occurs via TMA, which is a transcription-based nucleic acid amplification method that utilizes two enzymes, Moloney murine leukemia virus (MMLV) reverse transcriptase and T7 RNA polymerase. A unique set of primers is used for Meg3, preferably the primer pair of SEQ ID NOs 25 and 26 or a primer pair of SEQ ID NOs 59 and 60. The reverse transcriptase is used to generate a DNA copy (containing a promoter sequence for T7 RNA polymerase) of the target sequence. T7 RNA polymerase produces multiple copies of RNA amplicon from the DNA copy. Detection of Meg3 expression level is achieved by HPA using single-stranded, chemiluminescent-labelled nucleic acid probes that are complementary to the one or more amplicon. Preferably, distinguishably labelled probes are used for each target amplicon. The labelled nucleic acid probes hybridize specifically to the amplicon. A "selection reagent" then differentiates between hybridized and unhybridized probes by inactivating the label on unhybridized probes. During the detection step, the chemiluminescent signal produced by the hybridized probe is measured in a luminometer and is reported as "Relative Light Units" (RLU), thereby quantifying the Meg3 expression level.

[0091] In accordance with a preferred aspect of the second aspect of the invention the method comprises prior to the detection of the expression level of Meg3 a pre-amplification step of the RNA within the test patient's sample and/or the healthy patient's sample.

[0092] Performing a pre-amplification step is of particular advantage in case only a low amount of (test and/or control) sample is available. The pre-amplification step allows increasing the amount of RNA within the sample before proceeding to the analysis of the expression level. Means and methods for the pre-amplification of RNA are well known in the art (see, e.g., Vermeulen et al (2009) BMC Res Notes., 2:235). In case both the RNA in the test and control sample is pre-amplified preferably the same method for the pre-amplification step is used such that the relative amount of RNA of the test sample as compared to the control sample is maintained. In case only the RNA of the test or control sample is pre-amplified or the two RNA samples are pre-amplified by different methods, the expression level data may have to be normalized for the pre-amplification step; see, e.g. Mestdagh et al. (2009), Genome Biology 2009, 10:R64.

[0093] Also described herein is a kit for diagnosing cardiac remodelling in a patient, said kit comprising means for the detection of the expression level of Meg3, and instructions how to use the kit.

[0094] The instructions how to use the kit preferably inform inter alia that a low-expression level of the IncRNAs Meg3 is indicative for cardiac remodelling.

[0095] The means for the detection of the expression level of Meg3 are preferably the means required for (i) a quantitative PCR, preferably quantitative real time PCR, or (ii) a template/RNA amplification method followed by determining the expression level of Meg3 using a fluorescence- or luminescence-based quantification method. These means have been further detailed herein above in connection with the second aspect of the invention, and may be comprised in the kit. Hence, the means preferably comprise oligonucleotides, such as fluorescent hybridization probes or primers, which specifically hybridize to Meg3. Additional ingredients of the kits may be fluorescent or luminescent dyes, preferably coupled to said oligonucleotides. Also, additional ingredients of the kits may be enzymes, such as a reverse transcriptase and/or a polymerase.

[0096] Also in connection with the kit, Meg3 preferably comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. Within SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21 SEQ ID NO: 8 and SEQ ID NO: 21 are preferred and SEQ ID NO: 21 is most preferred. In this connection it is to be understood that the kits may also encompass means for detecting IncRNAs being with increased preference at least 90%, at least 92%, at least 94%, at least 96%, at least 98%, at least 99%, and at least 99.5% identical to any one of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. The kit may furthermore encompass means for detecting and comparing the expression level of one or more IncRNAs differing with increasing preference by no more than 10, such as 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 nucleotide(s) from any one of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21. The nucleotide differences may be the addition, deletion and/or substitution of nucleotide(s).

[0097] The various components of the kit may be packaged in one or more containers such as one or more vials. The vials may, in addition to the components, comprise preservatives or buffers for storage.

[0098] The means may be primer pairs used for the specific detection of the expression level of Meg3.

[0099] The primer pairs of SEQ ID NOs 25 and 26, and SEQ ID NOs 59 and 60 are described herein above in connection with the method according to the second aspect of the present invention. One of these primer pairs is preferably incorporated into the kit described herin as means for the detection of the expression level of Meg3.

[0100] The figures show.

Figure 1. A) Meg3 levels were measured via qPCR in 13 weeks TAC vs sham CFs (cardiac fibroblasts), cardiomyocytes (CMCs) and endothelial cells (ECs), revealing that Meg3 downregulation after TAC is fibroblast-specific. B) Furthermore, in healthy mice Meg3 is mainly expressed in fibroblasts rather than cardiomyocytes or endothelial cells. (HPRT was used as normalizing control in both figures; ****p<0.0001; n=5).

Figure 2. A) Subcellular localization of Meg3 was investigated after cell lysis and isolation of the cytoplasmic, nuclear and chromatin-associated RNA content, revealing that, in CFs, Meg3 is nuclear enriched and associated to the chromatin. Known mRNAs and IncRNAs (b-actin, Xist, Neat1) were used as controls. (n=3). B) Antisense oligonucleotides (GapmeRs, Exiqon) were used to silence Meg3 expression in CFs. (p<0.01, *** p<0.001, n=8/9 replicates from 3 independent experiments).

Figure 3. A) The effect of Meg3 silencing on gene expression was investigated in CFs through microarray profiling 48h after transfection with Meg3 antisense GapmeR or a negative control (n=3, FC≥2/≤ 0.5, p≤0.05). B) The functional annotation tool David 6.7 has been used to perform the GO term enrichment analysis. Top 5 terms according to p-values are shown for the search domains molecular function, biological process and cellular compartment.

Figure 4. A) Silencing of Meg3 leads to downregulation of MMP2, under basal conditions, 48h after transfection with antisense GapmeRs. Also, the TGF-beta I-induced increase in MMP2 transcription is abolished when expression of Meg3 is knocked down. (* p<0.05, ** p<0.01, n=6/9 replicates from 2/3 independent experiments). B) Gelatinolytic activity of MMP2 in the supernatant of cardiac fibroblasts is reduced after silencing of Meg3. (* p<0.05, n=6 replicates from 2 independent experiments).

Figure 5. Expression of Meg3 and MMP2 in murine myocardial tissue in the course of TAC (n=3/7/8).

Figure 6. A) One GapmeR injection at a dose of 20 mg/Kg was followed 5 days later by isolation of cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells and CFs. As shown, Meg3 expression is silenced in fibroblasts and endothelial cells, while no effect was observed in cardiomyocytes (n=2/3). B) TAC operation was followed by injection of Meg3 antisense GapmeR or GapmeR Control 1 week after surgery. 20 mg/Kg GapmeR injections were repeated at 10 days intervals. Animals were sacrificed 6 weeks after TAC.

Figure 7. A) Meg3 and Mmp2 expression in myocardial tissues of mice undergoing 6 weeks of TAC with or without inhibition of Meg3 (n=7/8; ** p<0.01, **** p<0.0001). B) Expression of TGF-beta isoforms and CTGF (n=7/8; * p<0.05, *** p<0.001; p-values represent statistically significant differences between TAC groups and the sham group). C) Fibrosis levels in the left ventricles, as assessed via picro Sirius staining of heart sections (n=7/8; * p<0.05, *** p<0.001). D) Cardiomyocyte cross sectional areas in myocardial tissues of mice undergoing 6 weeks of TAC with or without inhibition of Meg3 (n=7/8; ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001, **** p<0.0001).

Figure 8. Silencing of Meg3 shortly after TAC is associated to a significantly better myocardial performance with shorter isovolumetric contraction and relaxation times, indicative of a better systolic and dyastolic function. (n=7/8; ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001, **** p< 0.0001).

Figure 9. Silencing of Meg3 shortly after TAC is not associated to increased mmp9 expression or enhanced infiltration of inflammatory cells. (n=7/8; * p<0.05).

Figure 10. Silencing of Meg3 prevents binding of P53 on the promoter of Mmp-2 (a) Genomic position and nucleotide composition of the P53 binding site on the Mmp-2 promoter as predicted by the Jaspar database. (b) ChIP confirming the binding of P53 to the Mmp-2 promoter following stimulation of mouse CFs with TGF-β I and the absence of binding following Meg3 silencing; the promoter of Cdkn1a (p21) has been used as positive control, whereas an intron of Mmp-2 and the promoter of Gapdh have been used as negative controls (n = 4), since they are not predicted to be bound by P53. (FC = fold change, * p≤0.05, ** p≤0.01, *** p≤0.001, **** p≤0.0001, ns = not significant).

Figure 11. Effect of Meg3 silencing on apoptosis and cell cycle distribution of murine CFs (a) Expression of Cdkn1a (P21) in mouse CFs 48 hours after transfection with GapmeR Meg3 or GapmeR Control as measured via qPCR (n = 3). (b) Apoptosis levels, represented by the activity of the effector caspases 3/7 in CFs following Meg3 silencing in the absence (PBS) and in the presence (doxorubicin) of DNA damage (n = 3). (c) Cell cycle distribution of AMCFs 48 hours after transfection with GapmeRs (n = 3). (FC = fold change, **** p≤0.0001, ns = not significant).

Figure 12. MMP-2 gelatinolytic bands in the hearts of sham and TAC mice injected with GapmeRs. Representative gel picture where the originally white bands on a blue zymogram background have been grey-scaled and inverted for a better visualization (n = 7/8). (FC = fold change, **** p≤0.0001, ns = not significant).

Figure 13. Effect of Meg3 silencing on capillar density in mice undergoing 6 weeks of sham or TAC surgery. Scale bar = 100 µm, n = 7/8, FC = fold change, ns = not significant.

Figure 14. Effect of Meg3 inhibition on LV wall thickness and LV mass in mice undergoing 6 weeks of TAC. (a) IVS and LVPW thickness in sham, and TAC mice with or without inhibition of Meg3, as measured via echocardiography (n = 7/8). (b) LV mass in sham, and TAC mice with or without inhibition of Meg3, as measured via echocardiography (n = 7/8). FC = fold change, * p≤0.05, ** p≤0.01, ns = not significant.

Figure 15. Lack of effect of Meg3 inhibition on LV diameters and on ejection fraction and fractional shortening following 6 weeks of TAC. n=7/8, FC = fold change, * p≤0.05, ** p≤0.01, ns = not significant.

Figure 16. Effect of Meg3 inhibition on dP/dTmax and dP/dTmin values of mice undergoing sham and TAC surgery with injections of GapmeRs. Parameters were obtained via Millar heart catheterization (n = 7/5/6). (* p≤0.05, *** p≤0.001, **** p≤0.0001, ns = not significant).

Figure 17. Pressure-volume loops and indicators of systolic/diastolic function in sham, and TAC mice with or without Meg3 silencing. (a) Characteristic changes in PV relationships obtained by vena cava inferior occlusion in sham, and TAC mice with or without Meg3 inhibition. (n = 7/5/6). (b) ESPVR in sham, and TAC mice injected with GapmeR Control or GapmeR Meg3 (n = 5/6/7). (c) EDPVR in sham, and TAC mice injected with GapmeR Control or GapmeR Meg3 (n = 7/5/6). (** p≤0.01, *** p≤0.001, ns=not significant).

Figure 18. Levels of fibrosis markers in human CFs following transfection with GapmeR targeting human Meg3. (a) All measurements were performed via real-time PCR normalizing specific gene expression levels to those of Hprt (n=3, * p≤0.05, ** p≤0.01, *** p≤0.001, **** p≤0.0001, ns=not significant).



[0101] The examples illustrate the invention.

Example 1 - Material and Methods


Chromatin immunoprecipitation



[0102] For prediction of P53 binding sites on the Mmp-2 promoter the Jaspar core vertebrata database was used and a 1000 bp region directly upstream of the Mmp-2 transcription start site was scanned with the TP53 matrix model (Homo Sapiens). For ChIP, the MAGnify Kit (ThermoFisher) was used following the manufacturer's recommendations. 2 x 106 primary adult murine CFs were seeded in a 10 cm petri dish per experimental condition. Cross-linking of cells was performed directly on the dish without trypsinization. Sonication was performed on a Bioruptor UCD-200TM-EX for 16 cycles of 30 seconds ON, 30 seconds OFF at high power. 200.000 cells were used for each immunoprecipitation. For P53, 4 µg of a mouse monoclonal anti-P53 antibody (Cell Signaling 2524S) were used, whereas for IgG control IP, 4 µg mouse monoclonal isotype control (Cell Signaling 5415S) were used.

Transverse aortic constriction and IncRNA profiling in cardiac fibroblasts



[0103] To generate cardiac pressure overload, male C57BL/6N mice (8 to 10 weeks old) were subjected to TAC as described previously1. For IncRNA microarray analysis, RNA from cardiac fibroblasts from sham or TAC groups (n=3 mice per group) obtained 13 weeks after surgery was subjected to global IncRNA profiling using the Arraystar Mouse LncRNA Microarray v 2.0 (Arraystarlnc).

Isolation of cardiac cells for IncRNA detection



[0104] Adult mouse cardiomyocytes were isolated according to the previously described retrograde perfusion method2 that was slightly modified and expanded to also obtain cardiac fibroblasts, via a 1 h pre-plating step in AMCF medium containing 1% FBS (10.8 g MEM, 10% NaHCO3, 2ng/ml vitamin B12, 1X Penicillin/streptomycin), and endothelial cells, via MACS sorting of CD146 positive cells using CD146 (LSEC) MicroBeads (Miltenyi Biotec).

RNA isolation



[0105] Total RNA from frozen tissues, frozen cell pellets or cultured cells was isolated using RNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen) or TriFast method (Peqlab) according to the manufacturer's instructions.

qRT-PCR analysis for microarray validation and quantitative detection of IncRNAs, mRNAs and genomic regions



[0106] cDNAs were synthesized with the iScript Select cDNA synthesis kit (Bio-Rad), and real-time RT-qPCR analysis was performed using primers listed below and the iQ SYBR Green Mix (Bio-Rad) according to the manufacturer's protocol. Gene-specific expression levels were normalized to levels of hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (Hprt) or b-actin (ActB).
Primer namePrimer sequence forwardPrimer sequence reverse
Mmu_Meg3 5'TCACCTCCAATTTCCCCTCC3' 5'GCAAGCCAAGCCTTAAACCT3'
Mmu_Hprt 5'GCGTCGTGATTAGCGATGAT3' 5'TCCTTCATGACATCTCGAGCA3'
Mmu_ActB 5'ATCAAGATCATTGCTCCTCCTG3' 5'AGGGTGTAAAACGCAGCTCA3'
Mmu_Alpha-MHC 5'GGTCCACA TTCTTCAGGA TTCTC3' 5'GCGTTCCTTCTCTGACTTTCG3'
Mmu_Fsp-1 5'GCTGCCCAGATAAGGAACCC3' 5'TGCGAAGAAGCCAGAGTAAGG3'
Mmu_Pecam-1 Quantitect Primer Assay: QT01052044 (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany)
Mmu_Gapdh 5'GAAGGGCTCATGACCACAGT3' 5'GGATGCAGGGATGATGTTCT3'
Mmu_Xist 5'TCATCCGCTTGCGTTCATAG3' 5'GAGATCAGTGCTGGCTAAATCAGA3'
Mmu_Neat-1 5'TGGCCCCTTTTGTTCATTAGC3' 5'TGGAAGGCCATTGTTTCAGG3'
Mmu_Mmp2 Quantitect Primer Assay: QT00116116 (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany)
Mmu_Anp 5'CCTGTGTACAGTGCGGTGTC3' 5'CCTAGAAGCACTGCCGTCTC3'
Mmu_Bnp 5'CTGAAGGTGCTGTCCCAGAT3' 5'GTTCTTTTGTGAGGCCTTGG3'
Mmu_Ctgf Quantitect Primer Assay: QT00096131 (Qlagen, Hilden, Germany)
Mmu_Tgf-beta I 5'TCAGACATTCGGGAAGCAGT3' 5'TGACGTCAAAAGACAGCCAC3'
Mmu_Tgf-beta II 5'GCTTCGAATCTGGTGAAGGC3' 5'CTATCGATGTAGCGCTGGGT3'
Mmu_Tgf-beta III 5'CCGCTGAATGGCTGTCTTTC3' 5'GGCTGAAAGGTGTGACATGG3'
Mmu_Mmp-9 Quantitect Primer Assay: QT00108815 (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany)
Mmu_Cdkn1a 5'CCTGGTGATGTCCGACCTG3' 5'CCATGAGCGCATCGCAATC3'
Hsa_Mmp-2 5'TGACATCAAGGGCATTTCAGGAGC3' 5'GTCCGCCAAATGAACCGGTCCTTG3'
Hsa_Hprt 5' AGGACTGAACGTCTTGCTCG3' 5'GTCCCCTGTTGACTGGTCA TT3'
Hsa_Meg3 5'GAAGAACTGCGGATGGAAGC3' 5'CACGTAGGCATCCAGGTGAT3'
Hsa_Col1a1 Quantitect Primer Assay: QT00037793 (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany)
Hsa_Ctgf Quantitect Primer Assay: QT00052898 (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany)
Hsa_alpha-SMA CCTGACTGAGCGTGGCTATT GATGAAGGATGGCTGGAACA
Mmu_mmp2 promoter 5'TCTCCAACTCTGTTCAGGCA3' 5'TCTGGAAAGGAGGTGGGATT3'
Mmu_Cdkn1a promoter 5'GGGTGGGGACTAGCTTTCTG3' 5'CAGCCCCACCTCTTCAATTC3'
Mmu_mmp2 intron 5'CGTGGTGTCTGAAACCTGGA3' 5'CGCCAGGTTATGCGTCTTTG3'
Mmu_Gapdh promoter 5'ATCCTGTAGGCCAGGTGATG3' 5'AGGCTCAAGGGCTTTTAAGG3'


[0107] The primer sequences in the above Table correspond to SEQ ID NOs 25 to 50 and SEQ ID NOs 53 to 70, wherein each pair of two consecutive SEQ ID NOs (e.g. SEQ ID NOs 25 and 26) corresponds to one of the above shown primer pairs.

Primary adult murine cardiac fibroblast isolation



[0108] Primary mouse cardiac fibroblasts were isolated from the hearts of male C57BL/6N mice (8-10 week-old) by standard collagenase 2-based digestion at 37°C. The resulting cell suspension was pre-plated from 1h up to overnight in DMEM with 1% penicillin/streptomycin and 10% FBS. After two passages the cell population is mainly composed of cardiac fibroblasts, as shown by immunostaining of vimentin and Fsp-1. Cells at passage 2-4 were used in all experiments. TGF-beta I treatment (R&D systems #7666-MB-005) was performed directly after transfection of cells, in 5% or 0.1% FBS, for 48h at a concentration of 10 ng/ml.

Subcellular fractionation



[0109] Fragmentation of cardiac fibroblasts into cytoplasmatic, nuclear-soluble and chromatin-associated fractions was performed as described previously3.

Human fibroblasts



[0110] Human cardiac fibroblasts were purchased from Promocell and cultured in Fibroblast Growth Medium 3 (Promocell) with 0.1 ml/ml FBS, 1 ng/ml Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor (Promocell) and 5 µg/ml insulin (Promocell).

Transfection with GapmeRs



[0111] Cells were transiently transfected with GapmeRs at a concentration of 50nM for 48h

Mouse Meg3: 5'- AAAGCAGCGAGTGTA-3' (SEQ ID NO: 51);

negative control A: 5'-AACACGTCTATACGC-3' (SEQ ID NO: 52)

Human Meg3 B: 5'-TGAGCATAGCAAAGGT-3' (SEQ ID NO: 71)

Human Meg3 C: 5'-ACCAGGAAGGAGACGA-3' (SEQ ID NO. 72)

Human Meg3 E: 5'-CTTTGGAACCGCATCA-3' (SEQ ID NO: 73)

All transfections were performed using Lipofectamine 2000 reagent (Invitrogen) according to the manufacturer's protocol.

Transcriptome profiling after Meg3 silencing



[0112] RNA was obtained from cardiac fibroblasts after GapmeR mediated silencing of Meg3 and subjected to microarray analyses (mRNA-Microarray_Ag4x44k_SC, Agilent Technologies). Go enrichment and KEGG pathway analysis was performed using DAVID 6.7 functional annotation tool.

Zymography



[0113] MMP2 activity in the supernatant of mouse cardiac fibroblast or in murine myocardial tissues was analyzed through gel zymography. Serum-free cell culture supernatant concentrated with Amicon Ultra-0.5 Centrifugal Filter Unit with Ultracel-30 membrane (Millipore) or myocardial tissue extracts were analyzed on a 10% SDS-gel containing 1 mg/ml gelatin, as described previously 4.

Injection of gapmers



[0114] GapmeR-Meg3 (5'AAAGCAGCGAGTGTA3') (SEQ ID NO: 51) or GapmeR negative control B (5'GCTCCCTTCAATCCAA3') (SEQ ID NO: 52) at a dose of 20 mg/kg (both from Exiqon) in saline (0.9% NaCl) as carriage medium, were delivered every 10 days by intraperitoneal injection, starting one week after TAC surgery. 6 weeks after surgery, cardiac function and morphometric changes were assessed by echocardiography (Vevo 2100, VisualSoncis) and Millar catheterization (1F, PVR-1000, Millar Instruments), and the hearts were removed for biochemical analysis.

Cell cycle analysis



[0115] For cell cycle analysis, cells were starved for 72 hours prior to transfection with GapmeRs and harvested 48 hours after liposomal transfection. The supernatant was removed and 200 µl Guava Cell Cycle Reagent containing PI were added and mixed well by pipetting up and down several times. After a 30 minute incubation at room temperature in the dark, single cells of each cellular sample were analyzed by flow cytometry with a Guava easyCyte instrument, measuring the size and the fluorescent intensity from each single event. The resulting raw data were further analyzed using the FlowJo software to achieve percentages of cells in G1, S or G2/M phase of the cell cycle.

Apoptosis detection



[0116] For assessment of apoptosis, the Caspase-Glo 3/7 assay (Promega) was used following the manufacturer's recommendations. Briefly, 48 hours following liposomal transfection, 100 µl Caspase-Glo 3/7 reagent were added to each well of a 96-well-plate and mixed with the culture medium by pipetting several times. The plate was then kept at room temperature in the dark for 1 hour. Afterwards, the developed luminescence was quantified in a plate-reading luminometer (Synergy HT Reader, BioTek) as the mean luminescence of 11 reads taken at 1 minute time intervals.

Fluorescence microscopy and histology



[0117] For histological examination of fibrosis, paraffin sections of the left ventricle were stained with Sirius red and picric acid to visualize collagen deposition. The collagen content was calculated as the percentage of the area in each heart section. Cryosections of the left ventricular myocardium were visualized by wheat germ agglutinin stain coupled to Alexa Fluor 488 (Invitrogen). The cell surface area of cardiomyocytes was calculated using the NIS-Elements BR 3.2 package (Nikon Instruments Inc.). Immunofluorescence was performed against CD45 and CD31 for quantification of, respectively, inflammatory cell infiltration and capillary density in the heart. Fluorescent cells were counted using the NIS-Elements BR 3.2 package (Nikon Instruments Inc.).

Statistical analysis



[0118] For statistical analysis, GraphPad 6 (GraphPad Software) was used. Data are displayed as means ± SEM. Statistical comparison among two groups was evaluated by two-tailed unpaired Student's t test. For comparison of more than two groups, one-way ANOVA corrected with the Bonferroni or Turkey's post-test was performed. In all cases, P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Example 2 - Results


Meg3 in cardiac fibroblasts isolated from TAC mice



[0119] Maternally Expressed Gene 3 (Meg3 transcript variant 3, NR_027652.1) was found among the IncRNAs showing the highest normalized intensities (log2 of normalized intensity > 8) and fold change (FC) values (FC TAC vs sham > 2.5) in cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) isolated from mice undergoing 13 weeks of Transverse Aortic Constriction (TAC) compared to sham surgery.

[0120] Real-time PCR confirmed the downregulation of Meg3 in TAC fibroblasts, while no regulation was observed in cardiomyocytes or endothelial cells (Figure 1A). Furthermore, expression levels of Meg3 in cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells of healthy mice represented, respectively, only 2% and 20% of the transcript levels found in CFs (Figure 1B).

Chromatin association and silencing of Meg3 in cardiac fibroblasts



[0121] In CFs isolated from adult mice and cultured in vitro between passage 2 and 4, Meg3 is expressed as a chromatin associated IncRNA (Figure 2A). By using antisense LNA GapmeRs, we were able to silence the expression of Meg3 in CFs by approximately 75% (Figure2B).

Effect of the silencing of Meg3 on the cardiac fibroblast transcriptome



[0122] Given the strict association to the nuclear chromatin compartment and the previous reports describing the role of Meg3 in transcriptional regulation of gene expression5, the effect of Meg3 silencing on the cardiac fibroblast transcriptome was investigated via microarray analysis. GapmeR-mediated silencing of Meg3 resulted in the upregulation of 1041 genes and in the downregulation of 848 genes (FC ≥ 2, p-value ≤ 0.05) (Figure 3A). GO term enrichment analysis of deregulated genes (Figure 3B) revealed that silencing of Meg3 is strongly associated to the deregulation of secreted signaling molecules such as growth factors, cytokines and chemokines as well as of membrane-bound and extracellular proteins, including matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).

MMP2 transcription is affected by Meg3 levels



[0123] The transcription of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2), in particular, is affected by Meg3 levels both in the presence and in the absence of TGF-beta (Figure 4A). Accordingly, the secreted active form of MMP2 is reduced in the supernatant of cultured CFs after silencing of Meg3 (Figure 4B).

Expression of Meg3 and MMP2 in the course of TAC



[0124] In vivo, myocardial expression of Meg3 and MMP2 is subjected to dynamic changes during the course of TAC. Meg3 is upregulated after 4 weeks of TAC, slightly downregulated after 6 weeks, and more strongly downregulated after 13 weeks (Figure 5). Similarly, MMP2 is upregulated in the first weeks of TAC, likely peaking between week 4 and 6, and decreased again after 13 weeks (Figure 5).

In vivo silencing of Meg3 in TAC mice



[0125] Previous reports have suggested that inhibition of MMP2 might be beneficial for the heart, reducing hypertrophy and fibrosis in conditions of diastolic dysfunction6. Intraperitoneal injection of Meg3 antisense LNA GapmeRs was able to induce silencing of Meg3 in cardiac fibroblasts 5 days after injection (Figure 6A). Therefore, TAC in adult mice and silenced Meg3 1 week after surgery (Figure 6B) were performed.

[0126] 6 weeks after TAC, silencing efficiency was analyzed via real-time PCR, as well as expression of MMP2 and of markers of hypertrophy and fibrosis. Successful silencing of Meg3 was associated with complete inhibition of the TAC-induced MMP2 increase (Figure 7A). Myocardial expression of TGF-beta isoforms as well as of CTGF was reduced after silencing of Meg3 (Figure 7B). Additionally, hypertrophic markers BNP and ANP showed a decrease in the TAC + GapmeR Meg3 group compared to the negative control group (Figure 7B). Histological analysis revealed a decrease in fibrosis levels and smaller cardiomyocyte cross-sectional areas (Figure 7C + 7D).

[0127] The left ventricular myocardial performance index, measured via pulsed Doppler echocardiography, revealed a functional improvement of the heart, with values of the index comparable to that of sham mice (Figure 8).

[0128] Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of Meg3 in vivo did not lead either to increased MMP9 expression, which has been reported to occur in late cardiac remodelling stages, overtaking MMP2 levels and leading to heart failure (Figure 9) or to increased infiltration of inflammatory cells in the myocardium (Figure 9).

[0129] Based on the above-described results, silencing of Meg3 in the heart is expected to be a promising therapeutic approach to achieve inhibition of MMP2 and improvement of cardiac function in conditions of left ventricular pressure overload, especially in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF). As mentioned herein above, in particular this patient subgroup is in dire need of new cardiac therapeutic medications with a focus on inhibition of cardiac fibrosis. The anti-Meg3 approach is expected to be an ideal approach for this patient group.

Example 3 - Further results


Meg3 affects binding of P53 on the promoter of Mmp-2 in cultured mouse CFs



[0130] The downregulation of Mmp-2 expression occurring following silencing of Meg3 was found to be mediated by P53. In fact, a P53 binding site was predicted in a 1000bp region upstream of the Mmp-2 transcription start site using the Jaspar database. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that P53 can bind to such site when fibroblasts are stimulated with TGF-beta I (figure 10 a). However, when expression of Meg3 is knocked down due to GapmeR transfection, binding of P53 to the Mmp-2 promoter does not occur, impairing Mmp-2 transcription (figure 10 b).

[0131] Interestingly, the expression of the P53 target and cell cycle regulator Cdkn1a (p21) was not affected by the silencing of Meg3. Consequently, no changes in cell cycle progression or apoptosis were detected following Meg3 silencing in mouse CFs (Figure 11).

Silencing of Meg3 in vivo impairs activation of myocardial MMP2 following 6 weeks of TAC



[0132] Following injection of GapmeR Meg3 in mice undergoing 6 weeks of TAC, myocardial levels of active MMP-2 were detected by gel zymography. Preventive silencing of Meg3 was followed by a significant reduction of active MMP-2 levels (Figure 12).

Silencing of Meg3 in vivo does not affect capillary density following 6 weeks of TAC



[0133] Since both Mmp-2 and Meg3 have been described to influence angiogenesis (Boon et al., J Am Coll Cardiol 2016 Dec 13;68(23):2589-2591 and Givvimani et al., Arch Physiol Biochem 2010 May; 116(2):63-72) capillary density was assessed in mice undergoing 6 weeks of TAC and injection of GapmeRs. No significant differences found between sham and TAC mice and between TAC mice receiving GapmeR control or GapmeR Meg3 (figure 13).

Silencing of Meg3 in vivo reduces LV mass following 6 weeks of TAC and ameliorates diastolic function without affecting cardiac contractility



[0134] The reduced deposition of ECM and the lower levels of CMC hypertrophy in TAC mice injected with GapmeR Meg3 were reflected in a decreased thickness of both the interventricular septum (IVS) and the LV posterior wall (LVPW), as measured via echocardiography. Accordingly, the echocardiographic LV mass was reduced in the TAC + GapmeR Meg3 group compared to the TAC + GapmeR Control group (figure 14).

[0135] On the other end LV diameters, as well as ejection fraction and fractional shortening, were not affected by the silencing of Meg3 (figure 15).

[0136] Besides the presence of a better myocardial performance, assessed via pulsed Doppler echocardiography, hemodynamic measurements confirmed that silencing of Meg3 is associated with a significantly better diastolic function following TAC. On the other hand, cardiac contractility was not significantly affected by the levels of Meg3, which therefore seem to selectively affect passive properties of the heart, rather than myocardial contractility (figure 16 and 17).

Silencing of Meg3 in human CFs leads to decreased RNA levels of Mmp-2, Col1a1, alpha-SMA and Ctgf



[0137] Human CFs were transfected with 3 different GapmeR designs targeting human Meg3. Levels of Mmp-2, Col1a1, alpha-SMA and Ctgf were measured via real-time PCR 48 hours following transfection. All genes were expressed at lower levels following Meg3 knockdown in human CFs (figure 18).

Literature



[0138] 
  1. 1) H. A. Rockman, R. S. Ross, A. N. Harris, K. U. Knowlton, M. E. Steinhelper, L. J. Field et al. Segregation of atrial-specific and inducible expression of an atrial natriuretic factor transgene in an in vivo murine model of cardiac hypertrophy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88, 8277-8281 (1991).
  2. 2) T. D. O'Connell, M. C. Rodrigo, P. C. Simpson. Isolation and culture of adult mouse cardiac myocytes. Methods Mol. Biol. 357, 271-296 (2007).
  3. 3) D. S. Cabianca, V. Casa, B. Bodega, A. Xynos, E. Ginelli, Y. Tanaka et al. A long ncRNA links copy number variation to a polycomb/trithorax epigenetic switch in FSHD muscular dystrophy. Cell 149, 819-831 (2012).
  4. 4) Toth M., Sohail A., Fridman R. Assessment of gelatinases (MMP-2 and MMP-9) by gelatin zymography. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;878:121-35.
  5. 5) Mondal T., Subhash S., Vaid R., Enroth S., Uday S., Reinius B., et al. MEG3 long noncoding RNA regulates the TGF-β pathway genes through formation of RNA-DNA triplexstructures. Nat Commun. 2015 Jul 24;6:7743.
  6. 6) Matsusaka H., Ide T., Matsushima S., Ikeuchi M., Kubota T., Sunagawa K., et al. Targeted deletion of matrix metalloproteinase 2 ameliorates myocardial remodeling in mice with chronic pressure overload. Hypertension. 2006 Apr;47(4):711-7. Epub 2006 Feb 27.

SEQUENCE LISTING



[0139] 

<110> Medizinische Hochschule Hannover

<120> The lncRNA Meg3 for therapy and diagnosis of cardiac remodelling

<130> Z1384 PCT

<150> EP 16 16 7961.8
<151> 2016-05-02

<160> 73

<170> BiSSAP 1.3

<210> 1
<211> 1896
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 1 (ENSMUST00000143836)

<400> 1



<210> 2
<211> 14548
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 2 (ENSMUST00000146701)

<400> 2

















<210> 3
<211> 5971
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 3 (ENSMUST00000143272)

<400> 3







<210> 4
<211> 1988
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 4 (ENSMUST00000124106)

<400> 4



<210> 5
<211> 797
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 5 (ENSMUST00000166636)

<400> 5

<210> 6
<211> 755
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 6 (ENSMUST00000126289)

<400> 6

<210> 7
<211> 706
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Mouse Meg3 isoform 7 (ENSMUST00000143847)

<400> 7

<210> 8
<211> 113
<212> DNA
<213> Mus musculus

<220>
<223> Core sequence of mouse Meg3

<400> 8

<210> 9
<211> 6984
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 1 (ENSU00000522771)

<400> 9









<210> 10
<211> 4489
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 2 (ENSU00000452120)

<400> 10







<210> 11
<211> 2672
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 3 (ENSU00000424076)

<400> 11



<210> 12
<211> 2368
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 4 (ENSU00000523671)

<400> 12





<210> 13
<211> 1771
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 5 (ENSU00000423456)

<400> 13



<210> 14
<211> 1726
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 6 (ENSU00000519709)

<400> 14



<210> 15
<211> 1721
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 7 (ENSU00000398474)

<400> 15



<210> 16
<211> 1712
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 8 (ENSU00000554639)

<400> 16



<210> 17
<211> 1689
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 9 (ENSU00000556736)

<400> 17



<210> 18
<211> 1674
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 10 (ENSU00000398518)

<400> 18



<210> 19
<211> 1582
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 11 (ENSU00000451743)

<400> 19



<210> 20
<211> 1351
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Human Meg3 isoform 12 (ENSU00000520714)

<400> 20



<210> 21
<211> 96
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Core sequence of human Meg3

<400> 21

<210> 22
<211> 18
<212> DNA
<213> Homo sapiens

<220>
<223> Partial core sequence of human Meg3

<400> 22
ccugucuaca cuugcugu   18

<210> 23
<211> 15
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR taget sequence in mouse Meg3

<400> 23
uacacucgcu gcuuu   15

<210> 24
<211> 15
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR taget sequence in human Meg3

<400> 24
uacacuugcu gucuu   15

<210> 25
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Meg3 forward

<400> 25
tcacctccaa tttcccctcc   20

<210> 26
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Meg3 reverse

<400> 26
gcaagccaag ccttaaacct   20

<210> 27
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Hprt forward

<400> 27
gcgtcgtgat tagcgatgat   20

<210> 28
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Hprt reverse

<400> 28
tccttcatga catctcgagc a   21

<210> 29
<211> 22
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_ActB forward

<400> 29
atcaagatca ttgctcctcc tg   22

<210> 30
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_ActB reverse

<400> 30
agggtgtaaa acgcagctca   20

<210> 31
<211> 23
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Alpha-MHC forward

<400> 31
ggtccacatt cttcaggatt ctc   23

<210> 32
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Alpha-MHC reverse

<400> 32
gcgttccttc tctgactttc g   21

<210> 33
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Fsp-1 forward

<400> 33
gctgcccaga taaggaaccc   20

<210> 34
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Fsp-1 reverse

<400> 34
tgcgaagaag ccagagtaag g   21

<210> 35
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Gapdh forward

<400> 35
gaagggctca tgaccacagt   20

<210> 36
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Gapdh reverse

<400> 36
ggatgcaggg atgatgttct   20

<210> 37
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Xist forward

<400> 37
tcatccgctt gcgttcatag   20

<210> 38
<211> 24
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Xist reverse

<400> 38
gagatcagtg ctggctaaat caga   24

<210> 39
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Neat-1 forward

<400> 39
tggccccttt tgttcattag c   21

<210> 40
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Neat-1 reverse

<400> 40
tggaaggcca ttgtttcagg   20

<210> 41
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Anp forward

<400> 41
cctgtgtaca gtgcggtgtc   20

<210> 42
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Anp reverse

<400> 42
cctagaagca ctgccgtctc   20

<210> 43
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Bnp forward

<400> 43
ctgaaggtgc tgtcccagat   20

<210> 44
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Bnp reverse

<400> 44
gttcttttgt gaggccttgg   20

<210> 45
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta I forward

<400> 45
tcagacattc gggaagcagt   20

<210> 46
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta I reverse

<400> 46
tgacgtcaaa agacagccac   20

<210> 47
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta II forward

<400> 47
gcttcgaatc tggtgaaggc   20

<210> 48
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta II reverse

<400> 48
ctatcgatgt agcgctgggt   20

<210> 49
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta III forward

<400> 49
ccgctgaatg gctgtctttc   20

<210> 50
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Tgf-beta III reverse

<400> 50
ggctgaaagg tgtgacatgg   20

<210> 51
<211> 15
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR-mouse Meg3

<400> 51
aaagcagcga gtgta   15

<210> 52
<211> 15
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR negative control B

<400> 52
aacacgtcta tacgc   15

<210> 53
<211> 19
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Cdknla forward

<400> 53
cctggtgatg tccgacctg   19

<210> 54
<211> 19
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Cdknla reverse

<400> 54
ccatgagcgc atcgcaatc   19

<210> 55
<211> 24
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Mmp-2 forward

<400> 55
tgacatcaag ggcatttcag gagc   24

<210> 56
<211> 24
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Mmp-2 reverse

<400> 56
gtccgccaaa tgaaccggtc cttg   24

<210> 57
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Hprt forward

<400> 57
aggactgaac gtcttgctcg   20

<210> 58
<211> 21
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Hprt reverse

<400> 58
gtcccctgtt gactggtcat t   21

<210> 59
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Meg3 forward

<400> 59
gaagaactgc ggatggaagc   20

<210> 60
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_Meg3 reverse

<400> 60
cacgtaggca tccaggtgat   20

<210> 61
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_alpha-SMA forward

<400> 61
cctgactgag cgtggctatt   20

<210> 62
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Hsa_alpha-SMA reverse

<400> 62
gatgaaggat ggctggaaca   20

<210> 63
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_mmp2 promoter forward

<400> 63
tctccaactc tgttcaggca   20

<210> 64
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_mmp2 promoter reverse

<400> 64
tctggaaagg aggtgggatt   20

<210> 65
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Cdknla promoter forward

<400> 65
gggtggggac tagctttctg   20

<210> 66
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Cdkn1a promoter reverse

<400> 66
cagccccacc tcttcaattc   20

<210> 67
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_mmp2 intron forward

<400> 67
cgtggtgtct gaaacctgga   20

<210> 68
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_mmp2 intron reverse

<400> 68
cgccaggtta tgcgtctttg   20

<210> 69
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Gapdh promoter forward

<400> 69
atcctgtagg ccaggtgatg   20

<210> 70
<211> 20
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> Mmu_Gapdh promoter reverse

<400> 70
aggctcaagg gcttttaagg   20

<210> 71
<211> 16
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR-human Meg3 B

<400> 71
tgagcatagc aaaggt   16

<210> 72
<211> 16
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR-human Meg3 C

<400> 72
accaggaagg agacga   16

<210> 73
<211> 16
<212> DNA
<213> Artificial Sequence

<220>
<223> GapmeR-human Meg3 E

<400> 73
ctttggaacc gcatca   16




Claims

1. A compound inhibiting the expression and/or the activity of maternally expressed 3 (Meg3) for use in treating or preventing cardiac remodelling, wherein the compound is a nucleotide-based inhibitor targeting Meg3 selected from a siRNA, a shRNA and an antisense oligonucleotide; or a nucleotide-based inhibitor comprising

(a) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence being complementary to at least 12 continuous nucleotides of a nucleic acid sequence selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21,

(b) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence which is at least 70% identical to the complementary strand of one or more nucleic acid sequences selected from SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21,

(c) a nucleic acid sequence which comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence according to (a) or (b), wherein the nucleic acid sequence is DNA or RNA,

(d) an expression vector expressing the nucleic acid sequence as defined in any one of (a) to (c), preferably under the control of a heart-specific promoter and/or a fibroblast-specific promoter, or

(e) a host cell comprising the expression vector of (d).


 
2. The compound for use according to claim 1, wherein the cardiac remodelling is Heart Failure with preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF).
 
3. The compound for use according to claim 1, wherein the cardiac remodelling is Heart Failure with reduced Ejection Fraction (HFrEF), myocardial infarction related cardiac remodelling, genetic cardiac disease associated cardiac remodelling, cardiac hypertrophy and/or cardiac fibrosis.
 
4. The compound for use according to claim 3, wherein the cardiac hypertrophy is ventricular hypertrophy, preferably left ventricular hypertrophy, and/or wherein the cardiac fibrosis is ventricular fibrosis, preferably left ventricular fibrosis.
 
5. The compound for use according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein Meg3 comprises or consists of a nucleic acid sequence selected from the group consisting of SEQ ID NOs 1 to 21.
 
6. A method for diagnosing cardiac remodelling in a patient, comprising

(a) detecting the expression level of Meg3 in a sample obtained from said patient, and optionally

(b) comparing said expression obtained in (a) with the expression level of Meg3 in a sample obtained from at least one healthy subject or with a predetermined standard that has been obtained from a sample of at least one healthy subject, wherein
a greater than 2-fold downregulation of Meg3 is indicative for cardiac remodelling in the patient.


 
7. The method according to claim 6, wherein said sample is a heart tissue sample.
 
8. The method according to claim 7, wherein the heart tissue sample comprises or consists of cardiac fibroblasts.
 
9. The method according to claim 7 or 8, wherein the heart tissue sample comprises or is the chromatin fraction of heart tissue.
 
10. The method of any one of claims 6 to 9, wherein the detection of the expression level of Meg3 comprises

(a) quantitative PCR, preferably quantitative real time PCR, or

(b) a template/RNA amplification method followed by determining the expression level of Meg3 using a fluorescence- or luminescence-based quantification method.


 


Ansprüche

1. Verbindung zur Inhibition der Expression und/oder Aktivität von "Mütterlich Exprimiert 3" (Meg3) zur Verwendung in der Behandlung oder der Prävention von kardialer Remodellierung, wobei die Verbindung ein Nukleotid-basierter Inhibitor ist, der auf Meg3 abzielt, ausgewählt aus einer siRNA, einer shRNA und einem Antisinnoligonukleotid; oder
ein Nukleotid-basierter Inhibitor, umfassend

(a) eine Nukleinsäuresequenz, die eine Nukleinsäuresequenz umfasst oder daraus besteht, die komplementär zu mindestens 12 aufeinanderfolgenden Nukleotiden einer Nukleinsäuresequenz ausgewählt aus den SEQ ID Nrn. 1 bis 21 ist,

(b) eine Nukleinsäuresequenz, die eine Nukleinsäuresequenz umfasst oder daraus besteht, die mindestens 70% identisch zu dem komplementären Strang einer oder mehrerer Nukleinsäuresequenzen ausgewählt aus den SEQ ID Nrn. 1 bis 21 ist,

(c) eine Nukleinsäuresequenz, die eine Nukleinsäuresequenz nach (a) oder (b) umfasst oder daraus besteht, wobei die Nukleinsäuresequenz DNA oder RNA ist,

(d) einen Expressionsvektor, der die in einem Punkt (a) bis (c) definierte Nukleinsäuresequenz exprimiert, bevorzugt unter der Kontrolle eines Herzspezifischen Promoters und/oder eines Fibroblasten-spezifischen Promoters, oder

(e) eine Wirtszelle, die den Expressionsvektor nach (d) umfasst.


 
2. Verbindung zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die kardiale Remodellierung Herzversagen mit erhaltener Auswurffraktion (HFpEF) ist.
 
3. Verbindung zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 1, wobei die kardiale Remodellierung Herzversagen mit reduzierter Auswurffraktion (HFrEF), Myokardinfarkt assoziierte kardiale Remodellierung, genetische Herzerkrankung assoziierte kardiale Remodellierung, kardiale Hypertrophie und/oder kardiale Fibrose ist.
 
4. Verbindung zur Verwendung nach Anspruch 3, wobei die kardiale Hypertrophie ventrikuläre Hypertrophie, bevorzugt linke ventrikuläre Hypertrophie ist, und/oder wobei die kardiale Fibrose ventrikuläre Fibrose, bevorzugt linke ventrikuläre Fibrose ist.
 
5. Verbindung zur Verwendung nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei Meg3 eine Nukleinsäuresequenz umfasst oder daraus besteht, die ausgewählt ist aus der Gruppe bestehend aus den SEQ ID Nrn. 1 bis 21.
 
6. Verfahren zur Diagnose kardialer Remodellierung in einem Patienten, umfassend

(a) Bestimmung des Expressionslevels von Meg3 in einer Probe, die aus dem Patienten erhalten wurde und gegebenenfalls,

(b) Vergleich der in (a) erhaltenen Expression mit dem Expressionslevel von Meg3 in einer Probe, die aus mindestens einem gesunden Individuum erhalten wurde oder mit einem vorbestimmten Standard, der aus einer Probe von mindestens einem gesunden Individuum erhalten wurde, wobei eine größer als 2-fache Herunterregulierung von Meg3 kardiale Remodellierung in dem Patienten anzeigt.


 
7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Probe eine Herzgewebeprobe ist.
 
8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 7, wobei die Herzgewebeprobe kardiale Fibroblasten umfasst oder daraus besteht.
 
9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 7 oder 8, wobei die Herzgewebeprobe die Chromatinfraktion des Herzgewebes umfasst oder ist.
 
10. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 6 bis 9, wobei die Bestimmung des Expressionslevels von Meg3

(a) quantitative PCR, bevorzugt quantitative Echtzeit-PCR, oder

(b) ein Matrize/RNA-Amplifikationsverfahren, gefolgt von der Bestimmung des Expressionslevels von Meg3 unter der Verwendung eines Fluoreszenz- oder Lumineszenz-basierten Quantifizirungsverfahrens umfasst.


 


Revendications

1. Composé inhibant l'expression et/ou l'activité du gène 3 exprimé maternellement (Meg3) pour utilisation dans le traitement ou la prévention d'un remodelage cardiaque, lequel composé est un inhibiteur à base de nucléotides ciblant Meg3 choisi parmi un siARN, un shARN et un oligonucléotide antisens ; ou
un inhibiteur à base de nucléotides comprenant

(a) une séquence d'acide nucléique qui comprend ou consiste en une séquence d'acide nucléique qui est complémentaire à au moins 12 nucléotides continus d'une séquence d'acide nucléique sélectionnée parmi les SEQ ID NO : 1 à 21,

(b) une séquence d'acide nucléique qui comprend ou consiste en une séquence d'acide nucléique qui est au moins 70 % identique au brin complémentaire d'une ou plusieurs séquences d'acide nucléique sélectionnées parmi les SEQ ID NO : 1 à 21,

(c) une séquence d'acide nucléique qui comprend ou consiste en une séquence d'acide nucléique selon (a) ou (b), laquelle séquence d'acide nucléique est de l'ADN ou de l'ARN,

(d) un vecteur d'expression exprimant la séquence d'acide nucléique telle que définie dans l'un quelconque de (a) à (c), préférablement sous le contrôle d'un promoteur spécifique du cœur et/ou d'un promoteur spécifique des fibroblastes, ou

(e) une cellule hôte comprenant le vecteur d'expression de (d).


 
2. Composé pour utilisation selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le remodelage cardiaque est une insuffisance cardiaque avec fraction d'éjection préservée (HFpEF).
 
3. Composé pour utilisation selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le remodelage cardiaque est une insuffisance cardiaque avec fraction d'éjection réduite (HFrEF), un remodelage cardiaque lié à un infarctus du myocarde, un remodelage cardiaque associé à une maladie cardiaque génétique, une hypertrophie cardiaque et/ou une fibrose cardiaque.
 
4. Composé pour utilisation selon la revendication 3, dans lequel l'hypertrophie cardiaque est une hypertrophie ventriculaire, préférablement une hypertrophie ventriculaire gauche, et/ou dans lequel la fibrose cardiaque est une fibrose ventriculaire, préférablement une fibrose ventriculaire gauche.
 
5. Composé pour utilisation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel Meg3 comprend ou consiste en une séquence d'acide nucléique sélectionnée dans le groupe constitué par les SEQ ID NO : 1 à 21.
 
6. Méthode pour diagnostiquer un remodelage cardiaque chez un patient, comprenant

(a) la détection du niveau d'expression de Meg3 dans un échantillon obtenu auprès dudit patient, et optionnellement

(b) la comparaison de ladite expression obtenue en (a) avec le niveau d'expression de Meg3 dans un échantillon obtenu auprès d'au moins un sujet en bonne santé ou avec un étalon prédéterminé qui a été obtenu à partir d'un échantillon d'au moins un sujet en bonne santé,
dans laquelle une régulation à la baisse de Meg3 supérieure à 2 fois est indicative d'un remodelage cardiaque chez le patient.


 
7. Méthode selon la revendication 6, dans laquelle ledit échantillon est un échantillon de tissu cardiaque.
 
8. Méthode selon la revendication 7, dans laquelle l'échantillon de tissu cardiaque comprend ou consiste en des fibroblastes cardiaques.
 
9. Méthode selon la revendication 7 ou 8, dans laquelle l'échantillon de tissu cardiaque comprend ou est la fraction de chromatine du tissu cardiaque.
 
10. Méthode selon l'une quelconque des revendications 6 à 9, dans laquelle la détection du niveau d'expression de Meg3 comprend

(a) une PCR quantitative, préférablement une PCR quantitative en temps réel, ou

(b) une méthode d'amplification de matrice/ARN suivie de la détermination du niveau d'expression de Meg3 par utilisation d'une méthode de quantification basée sur la fluorescence ou la luminescence.


 




Drawing














































































REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description