Dystrophin-deficient large animal models: translational research and exon skipping

Xinran Yu, Bo Bao, Yusuke Echigoya, Toshifumi Yokota
American Journal of Translational Research 2015, 7 (8): 1314-31
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive genetic disorder caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Affecting approximately 1 in 3,600-9337 boys, DMD patients exhibit progressive muscle degeneration leading to fatality as a result of heart or respiratory failure. Despite the severity and prevalence of the disease, there is no cure available. While murine models have been successfully used in illustrating the mechanisms of DMD, their utility in DMD research is limited due to their mild disease phenotypes such as lack of severe skeletal muscle and cardiac symptoms. To address the discrepancy between the severity of disease displayed by murine models and human DMD patients, dystrophin-deficient dog models with a splice site mutation in intron 6 were established. Examples of these are Golden Retriever muscular dystrophy and beagle-based Canine X-linked muscular dystrophy. These large animal models are widely employed in therapeutic DMD research due to their close resemblance to the severity of human patient symptoms. Recently, genetically tailored porcine models of DMD with deleted exon 52 were developed by our group and others, and can potentially act as a new large animal model. While therapeutic outcomes derived from these large animal models can be more reliably extrapolated to DMD patients, a comprehensive understanding of these models is still needed. This paper will discuss recent progress and future directions of DMD studies with large animal models such as canine and porcine models.

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