Model systems of DUX4 expression recapitulate the transcriptional profile of FSHD cells.
ABSTRACT: Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by the mis-expression of the double-homeodomain transcription factor DUX4 in skeletal muscle cells. Many different cell culture models have been developed to study the pathophysiology of FSHD, frequently based on endogenous expression of DUX4 in FSHD cells or by mis-expression of DUX4 in control human muscle cells. Although results generated using each model are generally consistent, differences have also been reported, making it unclear which model(s) faithfully recapitulate DUX4 and FSHD biology. In this study, we systematically compared RNA-seq data generated from three different models of FSHD—lentiviral-based DUX4 expression in myoblasts, doxycycline-inducible DUX4 in myoblasts, and differentiated human FSHD myocytes expressing endogenous DUX4—and show that the DUX4-associated gene expression signatures of each dataset are highly correlated (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r ? 0.75-0.85). The few robust differences were attributable to different states of cell differentiation and other differences in experimental design. Our study describes a model system for inducible DUX4 expression that enables reproducible and synchronized experiments and validates the fidelity and FSHD relevance of multiple distinct models of DUX4 expression.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by the mis-expression of the double-homeodomain transcription factor DUX4 in skeletal muscle cells. Many different cell culture models have been developed to study the pathophysiology of FSHD, frequently based on endogenous expression of DUX4 in FSHD cells or by mis-expression of DUX4 in control human muscle cells. Although results generated using each model are generally consistent, differences have also been reported, making it unclear which model(s) faithfully recapitulate DUX4 and FSHD biology. In this study, we systematically compared RNA-seq data generated from three different models of FSHD—lentiviral-based DUX4 expression in myoblasts, doxycycline-inducible DUX4 in myoblasts, and differentiated human FSHD myocytes expressing endogenous DUX4—and show that the DUX4-associated gene expression signatures of each dataset are highly correlated (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r ~ 0.75-0.85). The few robust differences were attributable to different states of cell differentiation and other differences in experimental design. Our study describes a model system for inducible DUX4 expression that enables reproducible and synchronized experiments and validates the fidelity and FSHD relevance of multiple distinct models of DUX4 expression. Overall design: We performed a systematic comparison of DUX4-regulated changes in the transcriptome in our inducible codon-altered DUX4 expression system (iDUX4), the endogenous DUX4 expression system (enDUX4), and cells transduced with lentivirus constitutively expressing DUX4 (vDUX4). The specific datasets used in this comparison are as follows: iDUX4 represents a new dataset generated from the MB135 immortalized human myoblasts with the doxycycline inducible codon-altered DUX4 (iDUX4), performed in biological triplicate fourteen hours after DUX4 induction in growth media, with uninduced cells as a control; enDUX4 represents the published dataset of differentiated FSHD myocytes that do or do not express endogenous DUX4, as determined using a DUX4-responsive fluorescent reporter and flow sorting (9); vDUX4 represents a published dataset wherein two different myoblast cell lines (MB135 and 54-1) were transduced with a lentiviral construct that drives constitutive DUX4 expression via the PGK promoter and maintained in growth media for 24 hours (MB135) or 36 hours (54-1) prior to harvesting RNA.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is linked to deletions in 4q35 within the D4Z4 repeat array in which we identified the double homeobox 4 (DUX4) gene. We found stable DUX4 mRNAs only derived from the most distal D4Z4 unit and unexpectedly extended to the flanking pLAM region that provided an intron and a polyadenylation signal. DUX4 encodes a transcription factor expressed in FSHD but not control primary myoblasts or muscle biopsies. The DUX4 protein initiates a large transcription deregulation cascade leading to muscle atrophy and oxidative stress, which are FSHD key features. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We now show that transfection of myoblasts with a DUX4 expression vector leads to atrophic myotube formation associated with the induction of E3 ubiquitin ligases (MuRF1 and Atrogin1/MAFbx) typical of muscle atrophy. DUX4 induces expression of downstream targets deregulated in FSHD such as mu-crystallin and TP53. We developed specific siRNAs and antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) targeting the DUX4 mRNA. Addition of these antisense agents to primary FSHD myoblast cultures suppressed DUX4 protein expression and affected expression of the above-mentioned markers. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:These results constitute a proof of concept for the development of therapeutic approaches for FSHD targeting DUX4 expression.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by an unusual deletion with neomorphic activity. This deletion derepresses genes in cis; however which candidate gene causes the FSHD phenotype, and through what mechanism, is unknown. We describe a novel genetic tool, inducible cassette exchange, enabling rapid generation of isogenetically modified cells with conditional and variable transgene expression. We compare the effects of expressing variable levels of each FSHD candidate gene on myoblasts. This screen identified only one gene with overt toxicity: DUX4 (double homeobox, chromosome 4), a protein with two homeodomains, each similar in sequence to Pax3 and Pax7. DUX4 expression recapitulates key features of the FSHD molecular phenotype, including repression of MyoD and its target genes, diminished myogenic differentiation, repression of glutathione redox pathway components, and sensitivity to oxidative stress. We further demonstrate competition between DUX4 and Pax3/Pax7: when either Pax3 or Pax7 is expressed at high levels, DUX4 is no longer toxic. We propose a hypothesis for FSHD in which DUX4 expression interferes with Pax7 in satellite cells, and inappropriately regulates Pax targets, including myogenic regulatory factors, during regeneration.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by the mis-expression of DUX4 in skeletal muscle cells. DUX4 is a transcription factor that activates genes normally associated with stem cell biology and its mis-expression in FSHD cells results in apoptosis. To identify genes and pathways necessary for DUX4-mediated apoptosis, we performed an siRNA screen in an RD rhabdomyosarcoma cell line with an inducible DUX4 transgene. Our screen identified components of the MYC-mediated apoptotic pathway and the double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) innate immune response pathway as mediators of DUX4-induced apoptosis. Further investigation revealed that DUX4 expression led to increased MYC mRNA, accumulation of nuclear dsRNA foci, and activation of the dsRNA response pathway in both RD cells and human myoblasts. Nuclear dsRNA foci were associated with aggregation of the exon junction complex component EIF4A3. The elevation of MYC mRNA, dsRNA accumulation, and EIF4A3 nuclear aggregates in FSHD muscle cells suggest that these processes might contribute to FSHD pathophysiology.
Project description:The human double-homeodomain retrogene DUX4 is expressed in the testis and epigenetically repressed in somatic tissues. Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by mutations that decrease the epigenetic repression of DUX4 in somatic tissues and result in mis-expression of this transcription factor in skeletal muscle. DUX4 binds sites in the human genome that contain a double-homeobox sequence motif, including sites in unique regions of the genome as well as many sites in repetitive elements. Using ChIP-seq and RNA-seq on myoblasts transduced with DUX4 we show that DUX4 binds and activates transcription of mammalian apparent LTR-retrotransposons (MaLRs), endogenous retrovirus (ERVL and ERVK) elements, and pericentromeric satellite HSATII sequences. Some DUX4-activated MaLR and ERV elements create novel promoters for genes, long non-coding RNAs, and antisense transcripts. Many of these novel transcripts are expressed in FSHD muscle cells but not control cells, and thus might contribute to FSHD pathology. For example, HEY1, a repressor of myogenesis, is activated by DUX4 through a MaLR promoter. DUX4-bound motifs, including those in repetitive elements, show evolutionary conservation and some repeat-initiated transcripts are expressed in healthy testis, the normal expression site of DUX4, but more rarely in other somatic tissues. Testis expression patterns are known to have evolved rapidly in mammals, but the mechanisms behind this rapid change have not yet been identified: our results suggest that mobilization of MaLR and ERV elements during mammalian evolution altered germline gene expression patterns through transcriptional activation by DUX4. Our findings demonstrate a role for DUX4 and repetitive elements in mammalian germline evolution and in FSHD muscular dystrophy.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is an incurable disorder linked to ectopic expression of DUX4. However, DUX4 is notoriously difficult to detect in FSHD muscle cells, while DUX4 target gene expression is an inconsistent biomarker for FSHD skeletal muscle biopsies, displaying efficacy only on pathologically inflamed samples. Immune gene misregulation occurs in FSHD muscle, with DUX4 target genes enriched for those associated with inflammatory processes. However, there lacks an assessment of the FSHD immune cell transcriptome, and its contribution to gene expression in FSHD muscle biopsies. Here, we show that EBV-immortalized FSHD lymphoblastoid cell lines express DUX4 and both early and late DUX4 target genes. Moreover, a biomarker of 237 up-regulated genes derived from FSHD lymphoblastoid cell lines is elevated in FSHD muscle biopsies compared to controls. The FSHD Lymphoblast score is unaltered between FSHD myoblasts/myotubes and their controls however, implying a non-myogenic cell source in muscle biopsies. Indeed, the FSHD Lymphoblast score correlates with the early stages of muscle inflammation identified by histological analysis on muscle biopsies, while our two late DUX4 target gene expression biomarkers associate with macroscopic inflammation detectable via MRI. Thus, FSHD lymphoblastoid cell lines express DUX4 and early and late DUX4 target genes, therefore, muscle-infiltrated immune cells may contribute the molecular landscape of FSHD muscle biopsies.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is believed to be caused by aberrant expression of double homeobox 4 (DUX4) due to epigenetic changes of the D4Z4 region at chromosome 4q35. Detecting DUX4 is challenging due to its stochastic expression pattern and low transcription level. In this study, we examined different cDNA synthesis strategies and the sensitivity for DUX4 detection. In addition, we investigated the effects of dexamethasone and knockout serum replacement (KOSR) on DUX4 expression in culture. Our data showed that DUX4 was consistently detected in cDNA samples synthesized using Superscript III. The sensitivity of DUX4 detection was higher in the samples synthesized using oligo(dT) primers compared to random hexamers. Adding dexamethasone to the culture media significantly suppressed DUX4 expression in immortalized (1.3 fold, p < 0.01) and primary (4.7 fold, p < 0.01) FSHD myoblasts, respectively. Culture medium with KOSR increased DUX4 expression and the response is concentration dependent. The findings suggest that detection strategies and culture conditions should be carefully considered when studying DUX4 in cultured cells.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD, OMIM: 158900, 158901) is the most common dystrophy in adults and so far, there is no treatment. Different loci of the disease have been characterized and they all lead to the aberrant expression of the DUX4 protein, which impairs the function of the muscle, ultimately leading to cell death. Here, we used gene editing to try to permanently shut down DUX4 expression by targeting its poly(A) sequence. We used transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALEN) and CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases in vitro on FSHD myoblasts. More than 150 TOPO clones were sequenced and only indels were observed in 4%. Importantly, in 2 of them, the DUX4 poly(A) signal was eliminated at the genomic level but DUX4 mRNA was still produced thanks to the use of a non-canonical upstream poly(A) signal sequence. These experiments show that targeting DUX4 PAS at the genomic level might not be an appropriate gene editing strategy for FSHD therapy.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy is a dominantly inherited myopathy associated with chromatin relaxation of the D4Z4 macrosatellite array on chromosome 4. DUX4 is encoded within each unit of the D4Z4 array where it is normally transcriptionally silenced and packaged as constitutive heterochromatin. Truncation of the array to less than 11 D4Z4 units (FSHD1) or mutations in SMCHD1 (FSHD2) results in chromatin relaxation and a small percentage of cultured myoblasts from these individuals exhibit infrequent bursts of DUX4 expression. There are no cellular or animal models to determine the trigger of the DUX4 producing transcriptional bursts and there has been a failure to date to detect the protein in significant numbers of cells from FSHD-affected individuals. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that myotubes generated from FSHD patients express sufficient amounts of DUX4 to undergo DUX4-dependent apoptosis. We show that activation of the Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway suppresses DUX4 transcription in FSHD1 and FSHD2 myotubes and can rescue DUX4-mediated myotube apoptosis. In addition, reduction of mRNA transcripts from Wnt pathway genes ?-catenin, Wnt3A and Wnt9B results in DUX4 activation. We propose that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is important for transcriptional repression of DUX4 and identify a novel group of therapeutic targets for the treatment of FSHD.
Project description:Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a common muscle dystrophy typically affecting patients within their second decade. Patients initially exhibit asymmetric facial and humeral muscle damage, followed by lower body muscle involvement. FSHD is associated with a derepression of DUX4 gene encoded by the D4Z4 macrosatellite located on the subtelomeric part of chromosome 4. DUX4 is a highly regulated transcription factor and its expression in skeletal muscle contributes to multiple cellular toxicities and pathologies ultimately leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. Since the discovery of the FSHD candidate gene DUX4, many cell and animal models have been designed for therapeutic approaches and clinical trials. Today there is no treatment available for FSHD patients and therapeutic strategies targeting DUX4 toxicity in skeletal muscle are being actively investigated. In this review, we will discuss different research areas that are currently being considered to alter DUX4 expression and toxicity in muscle tissue and the cell and animal models designed to date.