JOURNAL ARTICLE

Adeno-associated virus vector gene transfer and sarcolemmal expression of a 144 kDa micro-dystrophin effectively restores the dystrophin-associated protein complex and inhibits myofibre degeneration in nude/mdx mice

Stewart A Fabb, Dominic J Wells, Patricia Serpente, George Dickson
Human Molecular Genetics 2002 April 1, 11 (7): 733-41
11929846
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a severe life-threatening X-linked recessive disorder, caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, for which currently there is no effective treatment. Because of the large size of the dystrophin cDNA (14 kb) this precluded it from being used in early adenovirus- or retrovirus-based gene therapy vectors. However, some therapeutic success has been achieved in mdx mice using adenovirus- and retrovirus-mediated transfer of a 6.3 kb recombinant mini-dystrophin cDNA. Despite this, problems with immunogenicity and inefficient transduction of mature myofibres make these vectors less than ideal for gene transfer to skeletal muscle. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors overcome many of the problems associated with other vector systems. However, AAV vectors can only accommodate <5 kb of foreign DNA. For this reason we have produced a micro-dystrophin cDNA gene construct that is <3.8 kb. This construct, driven by a CMV promoter, was introduced into the skeletal muscle of 12-day-old nude/mdx mice using an AAV vector, resulting in specific sarcolemmal expression of micro-dystrophin in >50% of myofibres up to 20 weeks of age, and effective restoration of the dystrophin-associated protein (DAP) complex components. Additionally, evaluation of central nucleation indicated a significant inhibition of degenerative dystrophic muscle pathology. We have therefore shown that the current micro-dystrophin gene delivered in vivo using an AAV vector is not only capable of restoring sarcolemmal DAP complexes, but can also ameliorate dystrophic pathology at the cellular level.

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