Combination Antisense Treatment for Destructive Exon Skipping of Myostatin and Open Reading Frame Rescue of Dystrophin in Neonatal mdx Mice

Ngoc B Lu-Nguyen, Susan A Jarmin, Amer F Saleh, Linda Popplewell, Michael J Gait, George Dickson
Molecular Therapy 2015, 23 (8): 1341-1348
The fatal X-linked Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), characterized by progressive muscle wasting and muscle weakness, is caused by mutations within the DMD gene. The use of antisense oligonucleotides (AOs) modulating pre-mRNA splicing to restore the disrupted dystrophin reading frame, subsequently generating a shortened but functional protein has emerged as a potential strategy in DMD treatment. AO therapy has recently been applied to induce out-of-frame exon skipping of myostatin pre-mRNA, knocking-down expression of myostatin protein, and such an approach is suggested to enhance muscle hypertrophy/hyperplasia and to reduce muscle necrosis. Within this study, we investigated dual exon skipping of dystrophin and myostatin pre-mRNAs using phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers conjugated with an arginine-rich peptide (B-PMOs). Intraperitoneal administration of B-PMOs was performed in neonatal mdx males on the day of birth, and at weeks 3 and 6. At week 9, we observed in treated mice (as compared to age-matched, saline-injected controls) normalization of muscle mass, a recovery in dystrophin expression, and a decrease in muscle necrosis, particularly in the diaphragm. Our data provide a proof of concept for antisense therapy combining dystrophin restoration and myostatin inhibition for the treatment of DMD.

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