Subcellular localization of dystrophin isoforms in cardiomyocytes and phenotypic analysis of dystrophin-deficient mice reveal cardiac myopathy is predominantly caused by a deficiency in full-length dystrophin.
ABSTRACT: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive progressive muscle degenerative disorder that causes dilated cardiomyopathy in the second decade of life in affected males. Dystrophin, the gene responsible for DMD, encodes full-length dystrophin and various short dystrophin isoforms. In the mouse heart, full-length dystrophin Dp427 and a short dystrophin isoform, Dp71, are expressed. In this study, we intended to clarify the functions of these dystrophin isoforms in DMD-related cardiomyopathy. We used two strains of mice: mdx mice, in which Dp427 was absent but Dp71 was present, and DMD-null mice, in which both were absent. By immunohistochemical staining and density-gradient centrifugation, we found that Dp427 was located in the cardiac sarcolemma and also at the T-tubules, whereas Dp71 was specifically located at the T-tubules. In order to determine whether T tubule-associated Dp71 was involved in DMD-related cardiac disruption, we compared the cardiac phenotypes between DMD-null mice and mdx mice. Both DMD-null mice and mdx mice exhibited severe necrosis, which was followed by fibrosis in cardiac muscle. However, we could not detect a significant difference in myocardial fibrosis between mdx mice and DMD-null mice. Based on the present results, we have shown that cardiac myopathy is caused predominantly by a deficiency of full-length dystrophin Dp427.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked genetic disorder resulting from mutations in the dystrophin gene. The mdx/utrn -/- mouse, lacking in both dystrophin and its autosomal homologue utrophin, is commonly used to model the clinical symptoms of DMD. Interestingly, these mice are infertile but the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain unclear. Using dystrophin deficient mdx mouse and utrophin haplodeficient mdx/utrn +/- mouse models, we demonstrate the contribution of Dp427 (full-length dystrophin) and utrophin to testis and epididymis development, as well as spermatogenesis. We show that Dp427 deficiency disturbed the balance between proliferation and apoptosis of germ cells during spermatogenesis, which was further disrupted with utrophin haplodeficiency, deciphering a compensatory role of utrophin for dystrophin in the male reproductive system. In the spermatozoa, we have found a compensatory response of utrophin to dystrophin deficiency - namely the upregulation and relocation of utrophin to the flagellar midpiece. This study demonstrates the contribution of Dp427 and utrophin in male fertility, suggesting a potential pathology in DMD patients.
Project description:Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a severe muscle-wasting disease caused by mutations in the DMD gene encoding dystrophin, expressed mainly in muscles but also in other tissues like retina and brain. Non-progressing cognitive dysfunction occurs in 20 to 50% of DMD patients. Furthermore, loss of expression of the Dp427 dystrophin isoform in the brain of mdx mice, the most used animal model of DMD, leads to behavioral deficits thought to be linked to insufficiencies in synaptogenesis and channel clustering at synapses. Mdx mice where the locomotor phenotype is mild also display a high and maladaptive response to stress. Recently, we generated Dmdmdx rats carrying an out-of frame mutation in exon 23 of the DMD gene and exhibiting a skeletal and cardiac muscle phenotype similar to DMD patients. In order to evaluate the impact of dystrophin loss on behavior, we explored locomotion parameters as well as anhedonia, anxiety and response to stress, in Dmdmdx rats aged from 1.5 to 7 months, in comparison to wild-type (WT) littermates. Pattern of dystrophin expression in the brain of WT and Dmdmdx rats was characterized by western-blot analyses and immunohistochemistry. We showed that dystrophin-deficient Dmdmdx rats displayed motor deficits in the beam test, without association with depressive or anxiety-like phenotype. However, Dmdmdx rats exhibited a strong response to restraint-induced stress, with a large increase in freezings frequency and duration, suggesting an alteration in a functional circuit including the amygdala. In brain, large dystrophin isoform Dp427 was not expressed in mutant animals. Dmdmdx rat is therefore a good animal model for preclinical evaluations of new treatments for DMD but care must be taken with their responses to mild stress.
Project description:Multiple isoforms of dystrophin (Dp427, Dp260, Dp140, Dp71) are expressed differentially in the central nervous system (CNS) including the retinal layers. Disruption of these protein products is responsible for cognitive dysfunction, electroretinogram (ERG) abnormalities and behavioural disorders in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We studied the ocular characteristics and neuropsychiatric profile of 16 DMD boys. The ISCEV standard, full-field flash ERGs were assessed. Intellectual ability and behavioural disturbances were measured. All genotypes were associated with mildly abnormal photopic ERG a:b-wave amplitude ratios. In addition, we identified the following genotype/phenotype correlations: boys with mutations upstream of exon 30 (ie, isolated Dp427 altered expression) showed normal scotopic a:b ratios, abnormal photopic oscillatory potential OP2 and normal scotopic OP2. Conversely, all boys with DMD mutations downstream of exon 30 showed profoundly 'negative' scotopic ERGs (a:b ratios >1). In these patients, the involvement of Dp260 isoform resulted in the absence of slow rod pathway signalling in15?Hz scotopic flicker ERGs. These boys had abnormal scotopic OP2 and normal photopic OP2. Finally, children with mutations also affecting Dp71 were associated with more pronounced electronegative ERGs. When correlating ERGs to neurodevelopmental outcome, we found a positive correlation between negative scotopic ERGs and neurodevelopmental disturbances, and the most severe findings were in boys with Dp71 disruption. These findings suggest a strong association between DMD mutations affecting different DMD isoforms with characteristically abnormal scotopic ERGs and severe neurodevelopmental problems. The role of the ERG as a potential biomarker for dystrophin function in the CNS and response to novel genetic therapies warrants further exploration.
Project description:Inactivation of all utrophin isoforms in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice results in a strain of utrophin knockout mdx (uko/mdx) mice. Uko/mdx mice display severe clinical symptoms and die prematurely as in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients. Here we tested the hypothesis that marginal level dystrophin expression may improve the clinical outcome of uko/mdx mice. It is well established that mdx3cv (3cv) mice express a near-full length dystrophin protein at ?5% of the normal level. We crossed utrophin-null mutation to the 3cv background. The resulting uko/3cv mice expressed the same level of dystrophin as 3cv mice but utrophin expression was completely eliminated. Surprisingly, uko/3cv mice showed a much milder phenotype. Compared to uko/mdx mice, uko/3cv mice had significantly higher body weight and stronger specific muscle force. Most importantly, uko/3cv outlived uko/mdx mice by several folds. Our results suggest that a threshold level dystrophin expression may provide vital clinical support in a severely affected DMD mouse model. This finding may hold clinical implications in developing novel DMD therapies.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive and fatal disease of muscle wasting caused by loss of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin. In the heart, DMD results in progressive cardiomyopathy and dilation of the left ventricle through mechanisms that are not fully understood. Previous reports have shown that loss of dystrophin causes sarcolemmal instability and reduced mechanical compliance of isolated cardiac myocytes. To expand upon these findings, here we have subjected the left ventricles of dystrophin-deficient mdx hearts to mechanical stretch. Unexpectedly, isolated mdx hearts showed increased left ventricular (LV) compliance compared to controls during stretch as LV volume was increased above normal end diastolic volume. During LV chamber distention, sarcomere lengths increased similarly in mdx and WT hearts despite greater excursions in volume of mdx hearts. This suggests that the mechanical properties of the intact heart cannot be modeled as a simple extrapolation of findings in single cardiac myocytes. To explain these findings, a model is proposed in which disruption of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex perturbs cell-extracellular matrix contacts and promotes the apparent slippage of myocytes past each other during LV distension. In comparison, similar increases in LV compliance were obtained in isolated hearts from ?-sarcoglycan-null and laminin-?(2) mutant mice, but not in dysferlin-null mice, suggesting that increased whole-organ compliance in mdx mice is a specific effect of disrupted cell-extracellular matrix contacts and not a general consequence of cardiomyopathy via membrane defect processes. Collectively, these findings suggest a novel and cell-death independent mechanism for the progressive pathological LV dilation that occurs in DMD.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by deficient expression of the cytoskeletal protein, dystrophin. One third of DMD patients also have mental retardation (MR), likely due to mutations preventing expression of dystrophin and other brain products of the DMD gene expressed from distinct internal promoters. Loss of Dp71, the major DMD-gene product in brain, is thought to contribute to the severity of MR; however, the specific function of Dp71 is poorly understood.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Complementary approaches were used to explore the role of Dp71 in neuronal function and identify mechanisms by which Dp71 loss may impair neuronal and cognitive functions. Besides the normal expression of Dp71 in a subpopulation of astrocytes, we found that a pool of Dp71 colocalizes with synaptic proteins in cultured neurons and is expressed in synaptic subcellular fractions in adult brains. We report that Dp71-associated protein complexes interact with specialized modular scaffolds of proteins that cluster glutamate receptors and organize signaling in postsynaptic densities. We then undertook the first functional examination of the brain and cognitive alterations in the Dp71-null mice. We found that these mice display abnormal synapse organization and maturation in vitro, altered synapse density in the adult brain, enhanced glutamatergic transmission and reduced synaptic plasticity in CA1 hippocampus. Dp71-null mice show selective behavioral disturbances characterized by reduced exploratory and novelty-seeking behavior, mild retention deficits in inhibitory avoidance, and impairments in spatial learning and memory.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Results suggest that Dp71 expression in neurons play a regulatory role in glutamatergic synapse organization and function, which provides a new mechanism by which inactivation of Dp71 in association with that of other DMD-gene products may lead to increased severity of MR.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal X-linked muscular disease caused by defective expression of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin (Dp427). Selected autonomic and central neurons, including retinal neurons, express Dp427 and/or dystrophin shorter isoforms. Because of this, DMD patients may also experience different forms of cognitive impairment, neurological and autonomic disorders, and specific visual defects. DMD-related damages to the nervous system are established during development, suggesting a role for all dystrophin isoforms in neural circuit development and differentiation; however, to date, their function in retinogenesis has never been investigated. In this large-scale study, we analyzed whether the lack of Dp427 affects late retinogenesis in the mdx mouse, the most well studied animal model of DMD. Retinal gene expression and layer maturation, as well as neural cell proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation, were evaluated in E18 and/or P0, P5, P10, and adult mice. In mdx mice, expression of Capn3, Id3 (E18-P5), and Dtnb (P5) genes, encoding proteins involved in different aspects of retina development and synaptogenesis (e.g., Calpain 3, DNA-binding protein inhibitor-3, and ?-dystrobrevin, respectively), was transiently reduced compared to age-matched wild type mice. Concomitantly, a difference in the time required for the retinal ganglion cell layer to reach appropriate thickness was observed (P0-P5). Immunolabeling for specific cell markers also evidenced a significant dysregulation in the number of GABAergic amacrine cells (P5-P10), a transient decrease in the area immunopositive for the Vesicular Glutamate Transporter 1 (VGluT1) during ribbon synapse maturation (P10) and a reduction in the number of calretinin+ retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) (adults). Finally, the number of proliferating retinal progenitor cells (P5-P10) and apoptotic cells (P10) was reduced. These results support the hypothesis of a role for Dp427 during late retinogenesis different from those proposed in consolidated neural circuits. In particular, Dp427 may be involved in shaping specific steps of retina differentiation. Notably, although most of the above described quantitative alterations recover over time, the number of calretinin+ RGCs is reduced only in the mature retina. This suggests that alterations subtler than the timing of retinal maturation may occur, a hypothesis that demands further in-depth functional studies.
Project description:Background: The dystrophin gene has multiple isoforms: full-length dystrophin (dp427) is principally known for its expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle, but is also expressed in the brain, and several internal promoters give rise to shorter, N-terminally truncated isoforms with wider tissue expression patterns (dp260 in the retina, dp140 in the brain and dp71 in many tissues). These isoforms are believed to play unique cellular roles both during embryogenesis and in adulthood, but their shared sequence identity at both mRNA and protein levels makes study of distinct isoforms challenging by conventional methods. Methods: RNAscope is a novel in-situ hybridisation technique that offers single-transcript resolution and the ability to multiplex, with different target sequences assigned to distinct fluorophores. Using probes designed to different regions of the dystrophin transcript (targeting 5', central and 3' sequences of the long dp427 mRNA), we can simultaneously detect and distinguish multiple dystrophin mRNA isoforms at sub-cellular histological levels. We have used these probes in healthy and dystrophic canine embryos to gain unique insights into isoform expression and distribution in the developing mammal. Results: Dp427 is found in developing muscle as expected, apparently enriched at nascent myotendinous junctions. Endothelial and epithelial surfaces express dp71 only. Within the brain and spinal cord, all three isoforms are expressed in spatially distinct regions: dp71 predominates within proliferating germinal layer cells, dp140 within maturing, migrating cells and dp427 appears within more established cell populations. Dystrophin is also found within developing bones and teeth, something previously unreported, and our data suggests orchestrated involvement of multiple isoforms in formation of these tissues. Conclusions: Overall, shorter isoforms appear associated with proliferation and migration, and longer isoforms with terminal lineage commitment: we discuss the distinct structural contributions and transcriptional demands suggested by these findings.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal genetic disease caused by the absence of the sarcolemmal protein dystrophin. Dilated cardiomyopathy leading to heart failure is a significant source of morbidity and mortality in DMD. We recently demonstrated amelioration of DMD heart disease in 16 to 20-m-old dystrophin-null mdx mice using adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated micro-dystrophin gene therapy. DMD patients show severe heart disease near the end of their life expectancy. Similarly, mdx mice exhibit profoundly worsening heart disease when they reach beyond 21 months of age. To more rigorously test micro-dystrophin therapy, we treated mdx mice that were between 21.2 and 22.7-m-old (average, 22.1 ± 0.2 months; N=8). The ?R4-23/?C micro-dystrophin gene was packaged in the cardiotropic AAV-9 virus. 5×10(12) viral genome particles/mouse were delivered to mdx mice via the tail vein. AAV transduction, myocardial fibrosis and heart function were examined 1.7 ± 0.2 months after gene therapy. Efficient micro-dystrophin expression was observed in the myocardium of treated mice. Despite the robust dystrophin expression, myocardial fibrosis was not mitigated. Most hemodynamic parameters were not improved either. However, ECG abnormalities were partially corrected. Importantly, treated mice became more resistant to dobutamine-induced cardiac death. In summary, we have revealed for the first time the potential benefits and limitations of AAV micro-dystrophin therapy in end-stage Duchenne dilated cardiomyopathy. Our findings have important implications for the use of AAV gene therapy in dilated cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
Project description:The cardiomyopathy found in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is responsible for death due to heart failure in approximately 30% of patients and additionally contributes to many DMD morbidities. Strategies to bypass DMD-causing mutations to allow an increase in body-wide dystrophin have proved promising, but increasing cardiac dystrophin continues to be challenging. The purpose of this study was to determine if therapeutic restoration of cardiac dystrophin improved the significant cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction identified in X-linked muscular dystrophy (mdx) dystrophin-null mouse due to a truncation mutation over time after treatment.Mice lacking dystrophin due to a truncation mutation (mdx) were given an arginine-rich, cell-penetrating, peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PPMO) that delivered a splice-switching oligonucleotide-mediated exon skipping therapy to restore dystrophin in mdx mice before the development of detectable cardiomyopathy. PPMO successfully restored cardiac dystrophin expression, preserved cardiac sarcolemma integrity, and prevented the development of cardiac pathology that develops in mdx-null mice over time. By echocardiography and Doppler analysis of the mitral valve, we identified that PPMO treatment of mdx mice prevented the cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction identified in sham-treated, age-matched mdx mice, characteristic of DMD patients early in the disease process, in as little as 5-6 weeks after the initiation of treatment. Surprisingly, despite the short-term replacement of cardiac dystrophin (<1% present after 12 weeks by immunodetection), PPMO therapy also provided a durable cardiac improvement in cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction for up to 7 months after the initiation of treatment.These results demonstrate for the first time that PPMO-mediated exon skipping therapy early in the course of DMD may effectively prevent or slow down associated cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction with significant long-term impact.