RhoA mediates defective stem cell function and heterotopic ossification in dystrophic muscle of mice.
ABSTRACT: Heterotopic ossification (HO) and fatty infiltration (FI) often occur in diseased skeletal muscle and have been previously described in various animal models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD); however, the pathological mechanisms remain largely unknown. Dystrophin-deficient mdx mice and dystrophin/utrophin double-knockout (dKO) mice are mouse models of DMD; however, mdx mice display a strong muscle regeneration capacity, while dKO mice exhibit a much more severe phenotype, which is similar to patients with DMD. Our results revealed that more extensive HO, but not FI, occurred in the skeletal muscle of dKO mice versus mdx mice, and RhoA activation specifically occurred at the sites of HO. Moreover, the gene expression of RhoA, BMPs, and several inflammatory factors were significantly up-regulated in muscle stem cells isolated from dKO mice; while inactivation of RhoA in the cells with RhoA/ROCK inhibitor Y-27632 led to reduced osteogenic potential and improved myogenic potential. Finally, inactivation of RhoA signaling in the dKO mice with Y-27632 improved muscle regeneration and reduced the expression of BMPs, inflammation, HO, and intramyocellular lipid accumulation in both skeletal and cardiac muscle. Our results revealed that RhoA represents a major molecular switch in the regulation of HO and muscle regeneration in dystrophic skeletal muscle of mice.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal X-linked muscle wasting disorder caused by the absence of dystrophin, a large cytoskeletal muscle protein. Increasing the levels of the dystrophin-related-protein utrophin is a highly promising therapy for DMD and has been shown to improve pathology in dystrophin-deficient mice. One contributing factor to muscle wasting in DMD is mitochondrial pathology that contributes to oxidative stress and propagates muscle damage. The purpose of this study was to assess whether utrophin could attenuate mitochondria pathology and oxidative stress. METHODS:Skeletal muscles from wildtype C57BL/10, dystrophin-deficient mdx, dystrophin/utrophin double knockout (dko) and dystrophin-deficient mdx/utrophin over-expressing mdx-Fiona transgenic mice were assessed for markers of mitochondrial damage. RESULTS:Using transmission electron microscopy, we show that high levels of utrophin ameliorate the aberrant structure and localisation of mitochondria in mdx mice whereas absence of utrophin worsened these features in dko mice. Elevated utrophin also reverts markers of protein oxidation and oxidative stress, elevated in mdx and dko mice, to wildtype levels. These changes were observed independently of a shift in oxidative phenotype. CONCLUSION:These findings show that utrophin levels influence mitochondrial pathology and oxidative stress. While utrophin deficiency worsens the pathology, utrophin over-expression in dystrophic muscle benefits mitochondria and attenuates the downstream pathology associated with aberrant mitochondrial function.
Project description:Although it has been speculated that stem cell depletion plays a role in the rapid progression of the muscle histopathology associated with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for stem cell depletion remain poorly understood. The rapid depletion of muscle stem cells has not been observed in the dystrophin-deficient model of DMD (mdx mouse), which may explain the relatively mild dystrophic phenotype observed in this animal model. In contrast, we have observed a rapid occurrence of stem cell depletion in the dystrophin/utrophin double knockout (dKO) mouse model, which exhibits histopathological features that more closely recapitulate the phenotype observed in DMD patients compared with the mdx mouse. Notch signaling has been found to be a key regulator of stem cell self-renewal and myogenesis in normal skeletal muscle; however, little is known about the role that Notch plays in the development of the dystrophic histopathology associated with DMD. Our results revealed an over-activation of Notch in the skeletal muscles of dKO mice, which correlated with sustained inflammation, impaired muscle regeneration and the rapid depletion and senescence of the muscle progenitor cells (MPCs, i.e. Pax7+ cells). Consequently, the repression of Notch in the skeletal muscle of dKO mice delayed/reduced the depletion and senescence of MPCs, and restored the myogenesis capacity while reducing inflammation and fibrosis. We suggest that the down-regulation of Notch could represent a viable approach to reduce the dystrophic histopathologies associated with DMD.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration. Mutations in the DMD gene result in the absence of dystrophin, a protein required for muscle strength and stability. Currently, there is no cure for DMD. Since murine models are relatively easy to genetically manipulate, cost effective, and easily reproducible due to their short generation time, they have helped to elucidate the pathobiology of dystrophin deficiency and to assess therapies for treating DMD. Recently, several murine models have been developed by our group and others to be more representative of the human DMD mutation types and phenotypes. For instance, mdx mice on a DBA/2 genetic background, developed by Fukada et al., have lower regenerative capacity and exhibit very severe phenotype. Cmah-deficient mdx mice display an accelerated disease onset and severe cardiac phenotype due to differences in glycosylation between humans and mice. Other novel murine models include mdx52, which harbors a deletion mutation in exon 52, a hot spot region in humans, and dystrophin/utrophin double-deficient (dko), which displays a severe dystrophic phenotype due the absence of utrophin, a dystrophin homolog. This paper reviews the pathological manifestations and recent therapeutic developments in murine models of DMD such as standard mdx (C57BL/10), mdx on C57BL/6 background (C57BL/6-mdx), mdx52, dystrophin/utrophin double-deficient (dko), mdx?geo, Dmd-null, humanized DMD (hDMD), mdx on DBA/2 background (DBA/2-mdx), Cmah-mdx, and mdx/mTRKO murine models.
Project description:Duchenne muscle dystrophy (DMD) is one of the most common lethal genetic diseases of children worldwide and is 100% fatal. Steroids, the only therapy currently available, are marred by poor efficacy and a high side-effect profile. New therapeutic approaches are urgently needed.Here, we leverage PGC-1α, a powerful transcriptional coactivator known to protect against dystrophy in the mdx murine model of DMD, to search for novel mechanisms of protection against dystrophy.We identify heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) as a potential novel target for the treatment of DMD. Expression of HO-1 is blunted in the muscles from the mdx murine model of DMD, and further reduction of HO-1 by genetic haploinsufficiency worsens muscle damage in mdx mice. Conversely, induction of HO-1 pharmacologically protects against muscle damage. Mechanistically, HO-1 degrades heme into biliverdin, releasing in the process ferrous iron and carbon monoxide (CO). We show that exposure to a safe low dose of CO protects against muscle damage in mdx mice, as does pharmacological treatment with CO-releasing molecules.These data identify HO-1 and CO as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of DMD. Safety profiles and clinical testing of inhaled CO already exist, underscoring the translational potential of these observations.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients lack dystrophin from birth; however, muscle weakness becomes apparent only at 3-5 years of age, which happens to coincide with the depletion of the muscle progenitor cell (MPC) pools. Indeed, MPCs isolated from older DMD patients demonstrate impairments in myogenic potential. To determine whether the progression of muscular dystrophy is a consequence of the decline in functional MPCs, we investigated two animal models of DMD: (i) dystrophin-deficient mdx mice, the most commonly utilized model of DMD, which has a relatively mild dystrophic phenotype and (ii) dystrophin/utrophin double knock-out (dKO) mice, which display a similar histopathologic phenotype to DMD patients. In contrast to age-matched mdx mice, we observed that both the number and regeneration potential of dKO MPCs rapidly declines during disease progression. This occurred in MPCs at both early and late stages of myogenic commitment. In fact, early MPCs isolated from 6-week-old dKO mice have reductions in proliferation, resistance to oxidative stress and multilineage differentiation capacities compared with age-matched mdx MPCs. This effect may potentially be mediated by fibroblast growth factor overexpression and/or a reduction in telomerase activity. Our results demonstrate that the rapid disease progression in the dKO model is associated, at least in part, with MPC depletion. Therefore, alleviating MPC depletion could represent an approach to delay the onset of the histopathologies associated with DMD patients.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked genetic disease characterized by progressive muscle wasting and weakness and premature death. Glucocorticoids (e.g. prednisolone) remain the only drugs with a favorable impact on DMD patients, but not without side effects. We have demonstrated that glycine preserves muscle in various wasting models. Since glycine effectively suppresses the activity of pro-inflammatory macrophages, we investigated the potential of glycine treatment to ameliorate the dystrophic pathology. Dystrophic mdx and dystrophin-utrophin null (dko) mice were treated with glycine or L-alanine (amino acid control) for up to 15 weeks and voluntary running distance (a quality of life marker and strong correlate of lifespan in dko mice) and muscle morphology were assessed. Glycine increased voluntary running distance in mdx mice by 90% (P?<?0.05) after 2 weeks and by 60% (P?<?0.01) in dko mice co-treated with prednisolone over an 8 week treatment period. Glycine treatment attenuated fibrotic deposition in the diaphragm by 28% (P?<?0.05) after 10 weeks in mdx mice and by 22% (P?<?0.02) after 14 weeks in dko mice. Glycine treatment augmented the prednisolone-induced reduction in fibrosis in diaphragm muscles of dko mice (23%, P?<?0.05) after 8 weeks. Our findings provide strong evidence that glycine supplementation may be a safe, simple and effective adjuvant for improving the efficacy of prednisolone treatment and improving the quality of life for DMD patients.
Project description:Sarcoglycans are a group of single-pass transmembrane glycoproteins. In striated muscle, sarcoglycans interact with dystrophin and other dystrophin-associated proteins (DAPs) to form the dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex (DGC). The DGC protects the sarcolemma from contraction-induced injury. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by dystrophin gene mutations. In the absence of dystrophin, the DGC is disassembled from the sarcolemma. This initiates a chain reaction of muscle degeneration, necrosis, inflammation and fibrosis. In contrast to human patients, dystrophin-null mdx mice are only mildly affected. Enhanced muscle regeneration and the up-regulation of utrophin and integrin are thought to protect mdx muscle. Interestingly, trace amounts of sarcoglycans and other DAPs can be detected at the mdx sarcolemma. It is currently unclear whether sub-physiological sarcoglycan expression also contributes to the mild phenotype in mdx mice. To answer this question, we generated delta-sarcoglycan/dystrophin double knockout mice (delta-Dko) in which residual sarcoglycans were completely eliminated from the sarcolemma. Interestingly, utrophin levels were further increased in these mice. However, enhanced utrophin expression did not mitigate disease. The clinical manifestation of delta-Dko mice was worse than that of mdx mice. They showed characteristic dystrophic signs, body emaciation and more macrophage infiltration. Their lifespan was reduced by 60%. Furthermore, delta-Dko muscle generated significantly less absolute muscle force and became more susceptible to contraction-induced injury. Our results suggest that sub-physiological sarcoglycan expression plays a critical role in ameliorating muscle disease in mdx mice. We speculate that low-level sarcoglycan expression may represent a useful strategy to palliate DMD.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is one of the most frequent forms of muscular disorders. It is caused by the absence of dystrophin, a core component of the sarcolemma-associated junctional complex that links the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. We showed previously that plectin 1f (P1f), one of the major muscle-expressed isoforms of the cytoskeletal linker protein plectin, accumulates at the sarcolemma of DMD patients as well as of mdx mice, a widely studied animal model for DMD.Based on plectin's dual role as structural protein and scaffolding platform for signaling molecules, we speculated that the dystrophic phenotype observed after loss of dystrophin was caused, at least to some extent, by excess plectin. Thus, we hypothesized that elimination of plectin expression in mdx skeletal muscle, while probably resulting in an overall more severe phenotype, may lead to a partial phenotype rescue. In particular, we wanted to assess whether excess sarcolemmal plectin contributes to the dysregulation of sugar metabolism in mdx myofibers. METHODS: We generated plectin/dystrophin double deficient (dKO) mice by breeding mdx with conditional striated muscle-restricted plectin knockout (cKO) mice. The phenotype of these mice was comparatively analyzed with that of mdx, cKO, and wild-type mice, focusing on structural integrity and dysregulation of glucose metabolism. RESULTS: We show that the accumulation of plectin at the sarcolemma of mdx muscle fibers hardly compensated for their loss of structural integrity. Instead, it led to an additional metabolic deficit by impairing glucose uptake. While dKO mice suffered from an overall more severe form of muscular dystrophy compared to mdx or plectin-deficient mice, sarcolemmal integrity as well as glucose uptake of their myofibers were restored to normal levels upon ablation of plectin. Furthermore, microtubule (MT) networks in intact dKO myofibers, including subsarcolemmal areas, were found to be more robust than those in mdx mice. Finally, myotubes differentiated from P1f-overexpressing myoblasts showed an impairment of glucose transporter 4 translocation and a destabilization of MT networks. CONCLUSIONS: Based on these results we propose that sarcolemma-associated plectin acts as an antagonist of MT network formation in myofibers, thereby hindering vesicle-mediated (MT-dependent) transport of glucose transporter 4. This novel role of plectin throws a bridge between extra-sarcomeric cytoarchitecture and metabolism of muscle fibers. Our study thus provides new insights into pathomechanisms of plectinopathies and muscular dystrophies in general.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by severe degeneration and necrosis of both skeletal and cardiac muscle. While many experimental therapies have shown great promise in treating skeletal muscle disease, an effective therapy for Duchenne cardiomyopathy remains a challenge in large animal models and human patients. The current views on cardiac consequences of skeletal muscle-centered therapy are controversial. Studies performed in young adult mdx mice (a mild DMD mouse model) have yielded opposing results. Since mdx mice do not develop dystrophic cardiomyopathy until ?21 months of age, we reasoned that old mdx mice may represent a better model to assess the impact of skeletal muscle rescue on dystrophic heart disease. Here, we aged skeletal muscle-specific micro-dystrophin transgenic mdx mice to 23 months and examined the cardiac phenotype. As expected, transgenic mdx mice had minimal skeletal muscle disease and they also outperformed original mdx mice on treadmill running. On cardiac examination, the dystrophin-null heart of transgenic mdx mice displayed severe cardiomyopathy matching that of non-transgenic mdx mice. Specifically, both the strains showed similar heart fibrosis and cardiac function deterioration in systole and diastole. Cardiac output and ejection fraction were also equally compromised. Our results suggest that skeletal muscle rescue neither aggravates nor alleviates cardiomyopathy in aged mdx mice. These findings underscore the importance of treating both skeletal and cardiac muscles in DMD therapy.
Project description:The severity of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), an incurable disease caused by the lack of dystrophin, might be modulated by different factors, including miRNAs. Among them, miR-378 is considered of high importance for muscle biology, but intriguingly, its role in DMD and its murine model (mdx mice) has not been thoroughly addressed so far. Here, we demonstrate that dystrophic mice additionally globally lacking miR-378 (double-KO [dKO] animals) exhibited better physical performance and improved absolute muscle force compared with mdx mice. Accordingly, markers of muscle damage in serum were significantly decreased in dKO mice, accompanied by diminished inflammation, fibrosis, and reduced abundance of regenerating fibers within muscles. The lack of miR-378 also normalized the aggravated fusion of dystrophin-deficient muscle satellite cells (mSCs). RNA sequencing of gastrocnemius muscle transcriptome revealed fibroblast growth factor 1 (Fgf1) as one of the most significantly downregulated genes in mice devoid of miR-378, indicating FGF1 as one of the mediators of changes driven by the lack of miR-378. In conclusion, we suggest that targeting miR-378 has the potential to ameliorate DMD pathology.