Muscle and heart function restoration in a limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2I (LGMD2I) mouse model by systemic FKRP gene delivery

Chunping Qiao, Chi-Hsien Wang, Chunxia Zhao, Peijuan Lu, Hiroyuki Awano, Bin Xiao, Jianbin Li, Zhenhua Yuan, Yi Dai, Carrie Bette Martin, Juan Li, Qilong Lu, Xiao Xiao
Molecular Therapy 2014, 22 (11): 1890-9
Mutations in fukutin-related protein (FKRP) gene cause a wide spectrum of disease phenotypes including the mild limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2I (LGMD2I), the severe Walker-Warburg syndrome, and muscle-eye-brain disease. FKRP deficiency results in α-dystroglycan (α-DG) hypoglycosylation in the muscle and heart, which is a biochemical hallmark of dystroglycanopathies. To study gene replacement therapy, we generated and characterized a new mouse model of LGMD2I harboring the human mutation leucine 276 to isoleucine (L276I) in the mouse alleles. The homozygous knock-in mice (L276I(KI)) mimic the classic late onset phenotype of LGMD2I in both skeletal and cardiac muscles. Systemic delivery of human FKRP gene by AAV9 vector in the L276I(KI) mice, at either neonatal age or at the age of 9 months, rendered body wide FKRP expression and restored glycosylation of α-DG in both skeletal and cardiac muscles. FKRP gene therapy ameliorated dystrophic pathology and cardiomyopathy such as muscle degeneration, fibrosis, and myofiber membrane leakage, resulting in restoration of muscle and heart contractile functions. Thus, these results demonstrated that the treatment based on FKRP gene replacement was effective.

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