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Wild-type mouse models to screen antisense oligonucleotides for exon-skipping efficacy in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Limin Cao, Gang Han, Ben Gu, HaiFang Yin
PloS One 2014, 9 (11): e111079
25365558
A readily available animal model is essential for rapidly identifying effective treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a devastating neuromuscular disorder caused by the lack of dystrophin protein, which results from frame-disrupting mutations in the DMD gene. Currently, the mdx mouse is the most commonly used model for antisense oligonucleotide (AO)-mediated exon skipping pre-clinical studies, with a mild phenotype. However, the accessibility of mdx mouse colonies particularly in developing countries can constrain research. Therefore in this study we explore the feasibility of using wild-type mice as models to establish exon-skipping efficiency of various DMD AO chemistries and their conjugates. Four different strains of wild-type mice and six different AO chemistries were investigated intramuscularly and the results indicated that the same exon-skipping efficiency was achieved for all tested AOs as that from mdx mice. Notably, levels of exon-skipping obtained in C57BL6 and C3H and mdx mice were most closely matched, followed by ICR and BALB/C mice. Systemic validation revealed that wild-type mice are less responsive to AO-mediated exon skipping than mdx mice. Our study provides evidence for the first time that wild-type mice can be appropriate models for assessing DMD AO exon-skipping efficiency with similar sensitivity to that of mdx mice and this finding can further accelerate the development of effective DMD AOs.

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