Intronic Alternative Polyadenylation in the Middle of the DMD Gene Produces Half-Size N-Terminal Dystrophin with a Potential Implication of ECG Abnormalities of DMD Patients.
ABSTRACT: The DMD gene is one of the largest human genes, being composed of 79 exons, and encodes dystrophin Dp427m which is deficient in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). In some DMD patient, however, small size dystrophin reacting with antibody to N-terminal but not to C-terminal has been identified. The mechanism to produce N-terminal small size dystrophin remains unknown. Intronic polyadenylation is a mechanism that produces a transcript with a new 3' terminal exon and a C-terminal truncated protein. In this study, intronic alternative polyadenylation was disclosed to occur in the middle of the DMD gene and produce the half-size N-terminal dystrophin Dp427m, Dpm234. The 3'-rapid amplification of cDNA ends revealed 421 bp sequence in the downstream of DMD exon 41 in U-251 glioblastoma cells. The cloned sequence composing of the 5' end sequence of intron 41 was decided as the terminal exon, since it encoded poly (A) signal followed by poly (A) stretch. Subsequently, a fragment from DMD exon M1 to intron 41 was obtained by PCR amplification. This product was named Dpm234 after its molecular weight. However, Dpm234 was not PCR amplified in human skeletal and cardiac muscles. Remarkably, Dpm234 was PCR amplified in iPS-derived cardiomyocytes. Accordingly, Western blotting of cardiomyocyte proteins showed a band of 234 kDa reacting with dystrophin antibody to N-terminal, but not C-terminal. Clinically, DMD patients with mutations in the Dpm234 coding region were found to have a significantly higher likelihood of two ECG abnormal findings. Intronic alternative splicing was first revealed in Dp427m to produce small size dystrophin.
Project description:RNA-based therapeutic approaches using splice-switching oligonucleotides have been successfully applied to rescue dystrophin in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) preclinical models and are currently being evaluated in DMD patients. Although the modular structure of dystrophin protein tolerates internal deletions, many mutations that affect nondispensable domains of the protein require further strategies. Among these, trans-splicing technology is particularly attractive, as it allows the replacement of any mutated exon by its normal version as well as introducing missing exons or correcting duplication mutations. We have applied such a strategy in vitro by using cotransfection of pre-trans-splicing molecule (PTM) constructs along with a reporter minigene containing part of the dystrophin gene harboring the stop-codon mutation found in the mdx mouse model of DMD. Optimization of the different functional domains of the PTMs allowed achieving accurate and efficient trans-splicing of up to 30% of the transcript encoded by the cotransfected minigene. Optimized parameters included mRNA stabilization, choice of splice site sequence, inclusion of exon splice enhancers and artificial intronic sequence. Intramuscular delivery of adeno-associated virus vectors expressing PTMs allowed detectable levels of dystrophin in mdx and mdx4Cv, illustrating that a given PTM can be suitable for a variety of mutations.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal, X-linked, muscle-wasting disorder caused by mutations in the large, 2.4-Mb dystrophin gene. The majority of DMD-causing mutations are sporadic, multi-exon, frameshifting deletions, with the potential for variable immunological tolerance to the dystrophin protein from patient to patient. While systemic gene therapy holds promise in the treatment of DMD, immune responses to vectors and transgenes must first be rigorously evaluated in informative preclinical models to ensure patient safety. A widely used canine model for DMD, golden retriever muscular dystrophy, expresses detectable amounts of near full-length dystrophin due to alternative splicing around an intronic point mutation, thereby confounding the interpretation of immune responses to dystrophin-derived gene therapies. Here we characterize a naturally occurring deletion in a dystrophin-null canine, the German shorthaired pointer. The deletion spans 5.6 Mb of the X chromosome and encompasses all coding exons of the DMD and TMEM47 genes. The sequences surrounding the deletion breakpoints are virtually identical, suggesting that the deletion occurred through a homologous recombination event. Interestingly, the deletion breakpoints are within loci that are syntenically conserved among mammals, yet the high homology among this subset of ferritin-like loci is unique to the canine genome, suggesting lineage-specific concerted evolution of these atypical sequence elements.
Project description:Nonsense mutations are usually predicted to function as null alleles due to premature termination of protein translation. However, nonsense mutations in the DMD gene, encoding the dystrophin protein, have been associated with both the severe Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and milder Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) phenotypes. In a large survey, we identified 243 unique nonsense mutations in the DMD gene, and for 210 of these we could establish definitive phenotypes. We analyzed the reading frame predicted by exons flanking those in which nonsense mutations were found, and present evidence that nonsense mutations resulting in BMD likely do so by inducing exon skipping, confirming that exonic point mutations affecting exon definition have played a significant role in determining phenotype. We present a new model based on the combination of exon definition and intronic splicing regulatory elements for the selective association of BMD nonsense mutations with a subset of DMD exons prone to mutation-induced exon skipping.
Project description:Exonic duplications account for 10-15% of all mutations in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a severe hereditary neuromuscular disorder. We report a novel CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat)/Cas9-based strategy to correct the most frequent (exon 2) duplication in the DMD gene by targeted deletion, and tested the efficacy of such an approach in patient-derived myogenic cells. We demonstrate restoration of wild-type dystrophin expression at transcriptional and protein level in myotubes derived from genome-edited myoblasts in the absence of selection. Removal of the duplicated exon was achieved by the use of only one gRNA directed against an intronic duplicated region, thereby increasing editing efficiency and reducing the risk of off-target effects. This study opens a novel therapeutic perspective for patients carrying disease-causing duplications independently from the duplication extension. Overall design: CGH analysis of the Dystrophin gene in eight DMD patients with exon 2 duplications
Project description:Pseudoexon (PE) inclusion has been implicated in various dystrophinopathies; however, its splicing characteristics have not been fully investigated. This study aims to analyze the splicing characteristics of dystrophin PEs and compare them with those of dystrophin canonical exons (CEs). Forty-two reported dystrophin PEs were divided into a splice site (ss) group and a splicing regulatory element (SRE) group. Five dystrophin PEs with characteristics of poison exons were identified and categorized as the possible poison exon group. The comparative analysis of each essential splicing signal among different groups of dystrophin PEs and dystrophin CEs revealed that the possible poison exon group had a stronger 3' ss compared to any other group. As for auxiliary SREs, different groups of dystrophin PEs were found to have a smaller density of diverse types of exonic splicing enhancers and a higher density of several types of exonic splicing silencers compared to dystrophin CEs. In addition, the possible poison exon group had a smaller density of 3' ss intronic splicing silencers compared to dystrophin CEs. To our knowledge, our findings indicate for the first time that poison exons might exist in DMD (the dystrophin gene) and present with different splicing characteristics than other dystrophin PEs and CEs.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Antisense oligonucleotide-induced exon skipping is a promising approach for treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We have systemically administered an antisense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) targeting dystrophin exons 6 and 8 to a dog with canine X-linked muscular dystrophy in Japan (CXMD(J)) lacking exon 7 and achieved recovery of dystrophin in skeletal muscle. To date, however, antisense chemical compounds used in DMD animal models have not been directly applied to a DMD patient having the same type of exon deletion. We recently identified a DMD patient with an exon 7 deletion and tried direct translation of the antisense PMO used in dog models to the DMD patient's cells. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We converted fibroblasts of CXMD(J) and the DMD patient to myotubes by FACS-aided MyoD transduction. Antisense PMOs targeting identical regions of dog and human dystrophin exons 6 and 8 were designed. These antisense PMOs were mixed and administered as a cocktail to either dog or human cells in vitro. In the CXMD(J) and human DMD cells, we observed a similar efficacy of skipping of exons 6 and 8 and a similar extent of dystrophin protein recovery. The accompanying skipping of exon 9, which did not alter the reading frame, was different between cells of these two species. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Antisense PMOs, the effectiveness of which has been demonstrated in a dog model, achieved multi-exon skipping of dystrophin gene on the FACS-aided MyoD-transduced fibroblasts from an exon 7-deleted DMD patient, suggesting the feasibility of systemic multi-exon skipping in humans.
Project description:Antisense-mediated exon skipping has made significant progress as a therapeutic platform in recent years, especially in the case of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Despite FDA approval of eteplirsen-the first-ever antisense drug clinically marketed for DMD-exon skipping therapy still faces the significant hurdles of limited applicability and unknown truncated protein function. In-frame exon skipping of dystrophin exons 45-55 represents a significant approach to treating DMD, as a large proportion of patients harbor mutations within this "hotspot" region. Additionally, patients harboring dystrophin exons 45-55 deletion mutations are reported to have exceptionally mild to asymptomatic phenotypes. Here, we demonstrate that a cocktail of phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers can effectively skip dystrophin exons 45-55 in vitro in myotubes transdifferentiated from DMD patient fibroblast cells. This is the first report of substantive exons 45-55 skipping in DMD patient cells. These findings help validate the use of transdifferentiated patient fibroblast cells as a suitable cell model for dystrophin exon skipping assays and further emphasize the feasibility of dystrophin exons 45-55 skipping in patients.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by mutations in DMD, resulting in loss of dystrophin, which is essential to muscle health. DMD "exon skipping" uses anti-sense oligo-nucleotides (AONs) to force specific exon exclusion during mRNA processing to restore reading frame and rescue of partially functional dystrophin protein. Although exon-skipping drugs in humans show promise, levels of rescued dystrophin protein remain suboptimal. We previously identified dantrolene as a skip booster when combined with AON in human DMD cultures and short-term mdx dystrophic mouse studies. Here, we assess the effect of dantrolene/AON combination on DMD exon-23 skipping over long-term mdx treatment under conditions that better approximate potential human dosing. To evaluate the dantrolene/AON combination treatment effect on dystrophin induction, we assayed three AON doses, with and without oral dantrolene, to assess multiple outcomes across different muscles. Meta-analyses of the results of statistical tests from both the quadriceps and diaphragm assessing contributions of dantrolene beyond AON, across all AON treatment groups, provide strong evidence that dantrolene modestly boosts exon skipping and dystrophin rescue while reducing muscle pathology in mdx mice (p < 0.0087). These findings support a trial of combination dantrolene/AON to increase exon-skipping efficacy and highlight the value of combinatorial approaches and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug re-purposing for discovery of unsuspected therapeutic application and rapid translation.
Project description:Mutations in the dystrophin (DMD) gene and consequent loss of dystrophin cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). A promising therapy for DMD, single-exon skipping using antisense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PMOs), currently confronts major issues in that an antisense drug induces the production of functionally undefined dystrophin and may not be similarly efficacious among patients with different mutations. Accordingly, the applicability of this approach is limited to out-of-frame mutations. Here, using an exon-skipping efficiency predictive tool, we designed three different PMO cocktail sets for exons 45-55 skipping aiming to produce a dystrophin variant with preserved functionality as seen in milder or asymptomatic individuals with an in-frame exons 45-55 deletion. Of them, the most effective set was composed of select PMOs that each efficiently skips an assigned exon in cell-based screening. These combinational PMOs fitted to different deletions of immortalized DMD patient muscle cells significantly induced exons 45-55 skipping with removing 3, 8, or 10 exons and dystrophin restoration as represented by western blotting. In vivo skipping of the maximum 11 human DMD exons was confirmed in humanized mice. The finding indicates that our PMO set can be used to create mutation-tailored cocktails for exons 45-55 skipping and treat over 65% of DMD patients carrying out-of-frame or in-frame deletions.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a fatal muscle disease, caused by mutations in DMD, leading to loss of dystrophin expression. Phosphorodiamidate morpholino splice-switching oligonucleotides (PMO-SSOs) have been used to elicit the restoration of a partially functional truncated dystrophin by excluding disruptive exons from the DMD messenger. The 30-mer PMO eteplirsen (EXONDYS51) developed for exon 51 skipping is the first dystrophin-restoring, conditionally FDA-approved drug in history. Clinical trials had shown a dose-dependent variable and patchy dystrophin restoration. The main obstacle for efficient dystrophin restoration is the inadequate uptake of PMOs into skeletal muscle fibers at low doses. The excessive cost of longer PMOs has limited the utilization of higher dosing. We designed shorter 25-mer PMOs directed to the same eteplirsen-targeted region of exon 51 and compared their efficacies in vitro and in vivo in the mdx52 murine model. Our results showed that skipped-dystrophin induction was comparable between the 30-mer PMO sequence of eteplirsen and one of the shorter PMOs, while the other 25-mer PMOs showed lower exon-skipping efficacies. Shorter PMOs would make higher doses economically feasible, and high dosing would result in better drug uptake into muscle, induce higher levels of dystrophin restoration in DMD muscle, and, ultimately, increase the clinical efficacy.