Transcription Factor Decoys (TFDs) are short synthetic oligonucleotides that contain the binding site for specific bacterial transcription factors. When translocated into bacterial cytoplasm they can rapidly kill cells when targeted against essential bacterial pathways. Translocation is currently achieved by combination of the TFD with a proprietary lipidic delivery agent, CM2, to form nanoparticles. These interact with highly conserved anionic phospholipids, such as Cardiolipin, to effect delivery to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Simplifying translocation would be an advance that would allow serial screening of large libraries of TFDs to delineate genetic regulatory networks in numerous types of bacteria, including emerging strains. To achieve this we have combined key chemical moieties of the CM2 delivery molecule to the oligonucleotide conjugate by Click chemistry and show that these discrete conjugates are capable of translocation. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to monitor the uptake of the TFD-conjugates to E. coli and in parallel their effect on the targeted genetic pathways was confirmed with reporter strains and plating under selective conditions. Hence, it was confirmed that these conjugates can be used as tools to efficiently and specifically modify gene expression by inhibition of selected transcription factors.

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