Improvement in survival and muscle function in an mdx/utrn(-/-) double mutant mouse using a human retinal dystrophin transgene

Roger Gaedigk, Douglas J Law, Kathleen M Fitzgerald-Gustafson, Steven G McNulty, Ndona N Nsumu, Ann C Modrcin, Robert J Rinaldi, David Pinson, Stephen C Fowler, Mehmet Bilgen, Joanne Burns, Stephen D Hauschka, Robert A White
Neuromuscular Disorders: NMD 2006, 16 (3): 192-203
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a progressive muscle disease characterized by increasing muscle weakness and death by the third decade. mdx mice exhibit the underlying muscle disease but appear physically normal with ordinary lifespans, possibly due to compensatory expression of utrophin. In contrast, double mutant mice (mdx/utrn(-/-)), deficient for both dystrophin and utrophin die by approximately 3 months and suffer from severe muscle weakness, growth retardation, and severe spinal curvature. The capacity of human retinal dystrophin (Dp260) to compensate for the missing 427 kDa muscle dystrophin was tested in mdx/utrn(-/-) mice. Functional outcomes were assessed by histology, EMG, MRI, mobility, weight and longevity. MCK-driven transgenic expression of Dp260 in mdx/utrn(-/-) mice converts their disease course from a severe, lethal muscular dystrophy to a viable, mild myopathic phenotype. This finding is relevant to the design of exon-skipping therapeutic strategies since Dp260 lacks dystrophin exons 1-29.

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