Posts Tagged ‘genomic expression’

Muscular dystrophy has deficient stem cell dystrophin

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator



Dystrophin Deficient Stem Cell Pathology


Muscular Dystrophy is a Stem Cell-Based Disease

Because DMD results from mutations in the dystrophin gene, the vast majority of muscular dystrophy research was based on a simple model in which the Dystrophin protein played a structural role in the structural integrity of muscle fibers. Abnormal versions of the Dystrophin protein caused the muscle fibers to become damaged and die as a result of contraction.  Dystrophin anchors the cytoskeleton of the muscle fibers, which are essential for muscle contraction, to the muscle cell membrane, and then to the extracellular matrix outside the cell that serves as a foundation upon which the muscle cells are built.


However in this current study, Rudnicki and his team discovered that muscle stem cells also express the dystrophin protein. This is a revelation because Dystrophin was thought to be protein that ONLY appeared in mature muscle. However, in this study, it became exceedingly clear that in the absence of Dystrophin, muscle stem cells generated ten-fold fewer muscle precursor cells, and, consequently, far fewer functional muscle fibers. Dystrophin is also a component of a signal transduction pathway that allows muscle stem cells to properly ascertain if they need to replace dead or dying muscle.  Muscle stem cells repair the muscle in response to injury or exercise by dividing to generate precursor cells that differentiate into muscle fibers.

Even though Rudnicki used mice as a model system in these experiments, the Dystrophin protein is highly conserved in most vertebrate animals. Therefore, it is highly likely that these results will also apply to human muscle stem cells.

Gene therapy experiments and trials are in progress and even show some promise, but Rudnicki’s work tells us that gene therapy approaches must target muscle stem cells as well as muscle fibers if they are to work properly.

“We’re already looking at approaches to correct this problem in muscle stem cells,” said Dr. Rudnicki.

This paper has received high praise from the likes of Ronald Worton, who was one of the co-discovers of the dystrophin gene with Louis Kunkel in 1987.

Early pathogenesis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy modelled in patient-derived human induced pluripotent stem cells

Emi Shoji, Hidetoshi Sakurai, Tokiko Nishino, Tatsutoshi Nakahata, Toshio Heike, Tomonari Awaya, Nobuharu Fujii, Yasuko Manabe, Masafumi Matsuo & Atsuko Sehara-Fujisawa

Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 12831 (2015)

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive and fatal muscle degenerating disease caused by a dystrophin deficiency. Effective suppression of the primary pathology observed in DMD is critical for treatment. Patient-derived human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are a promising tool for drug discovery. Here, we report an in vitro evaluation system for a DMD therapy using hiPSCs that recapitulate the primary pathology and can be used for DMD drug screening. Skeletal myotubes generated from hiPSCs are intact, which allows them to be used to model the initial pathology of DMD in vitro. Induced control and DMD myotubes were morphologically and physiologically comparable. However, electric stimulation of these myotubes for in vitro contraction caused pronounced calcium ion (Ca2+) influx only in DMD myocytes. Restoration of dystrophin by the exon-skipping technique suppressed this Ca2+ overflow and reduced the secretion of creatine kinase (CK) in DMD myotubes. These results suggest that the early pathogenesis of DMD can be effectively modelled in skeletal myotubes induced from patient-derived iPSCs, thereby enabling the development and evaluation of novel drugs.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterised by progressive muscle atrophy and weakness that eventually leads to ambulatory and respiratory deficiency from early childhood1. It is an X-linked recessive inherited disease with a relatively high frequency of 1 in 3500 males1,2.DMD, which is responsible for DMD, encodes 79 exons and produces dystrophin, which is one of the largest known cytoskeletal structural proteins3. Most DMD patients have various types of deletions or mutations in DMD that create premature terminations, resulting in a loss of protein expression4. Several promising approaches could be used to treat this devastating disease, such as mutation-specific drug exon-skipping5,6, cell therapy7, and gene therapy1,2.

Myoblasts from patients are the most common cell sources for assessing the disease phenotypes of DMD11,12. …Previous reports have shown that muscle cell differentiation from DMD patient myoblasts is delayed and that these cells have poor proliferation capacity compared to those of healthy individuals11,12. Our study revealed that control and DMD myoblasts obtained by activating tetracycline-dependent MyoD transfected into iPS cells (iPStet-MyoD cells) have comparable growth and differentiation potential and can produce a large number of intact and homogeneous myotubes repeatedly.

The pathogenesis of DMD is initiated and progresses with muscle contraction. The degree of muscle cell damage at the early stage of DMD can be evaluated by measuring the leakage of creatine kinase (CK) into the extracellular space15. Excess calcium ion (Ca2+) influx into skeletal muscle cells, together with increased susceptibility to plasma membrane injury, is regarded as the initial trigger of muscle damage in DMD19,20,21,22,23,24. Targeting these early pathogenic events is considered essential for developing therapeutics for DMD.

In this study, we established a novel evaluation system to analyse the cellular basis of early DMD pathogenesis by comparing DMD myotubes with the same clone but with truncated dystrophin-expressing DMD myotubes, using the exon-skipping technique. We demonstrated through in vitro contraction that excessive Ca2+ influx is one of the earliest events to occur in intact dystrophin-deficient muscle leading to extracellular leakage of CK in DMD myotubes.

Generation of tetracycline-inducible MyoD-transfected DMD patient-derived iPSCs (iPStet-MyoD cells)

Figure 1: Generation and characterization of control and DMD patient-derived Tet-MyoD-transfected hiPS cells.   Full size image

Morphologically and physiologically comparable intact myotubes differentiated from control and DMD-derived hiPSCs

Figure 2: Morphologically and physiologically comparable skeletal muscle cells differentiated from Control-iPStet-MyoD and DMD-iPStet-MyoD.   Full size image

Exon-skipping with AO88 restored expression of Dystrophin in DMD myotubes differentiated from DMD-iPStet-MyoD cells

Figure 3: Restoration of dystrophin protein expression by AO88.   Full size image

Restored dystrophin expression attenuates Ca2+ overflow in DMD-Myocytes

Figure 4: Restored expression of dystrophin diminishes Ca2+ influx in DMD muscle in response to electric stimulation.   Full size image

Ca2+ influx provokes skeletal muscle cellular damage in DMD muscle

Figure 5: Ca2+ influx induces prominent skeletal muscle cellular damage in DMD-Myocytes.   Full size image

Skeletal muscle differentiation in myoblasts from DMD patients is generally delayed compared to that in healthy individuals11,36,37.  Our differentiation system successfully induced the formation of myotubes from DMD patients, and the myotubes displayed analogous morphology and maturity compared with control myotubes (Fig. 2a–c).  Comparing myotubes generated from patient-derived iPS cells with those derived from the same DMD clones but expressing dystrophin by application of the exon-skipping technique enabled us to demonstrate the primary cellular phenotypes in skeletal muscle solely resulting from the loss of the dystrophin protein (Fig. 4b).  Our results demonstrate that truncated but functional dystrophin protein expression improved the cellular phenotype of DMD myotubes.

In DMD, the lack of dystrophin induces an excess influx of Ca2+ , leading to pathological dystrophic changes22. We consistently observed excess Ca2+ influx in DMD-Myocytes compared to Control-Myocytes (Supplementary Figure S3a and S3b) in response to electric stimulation. TRP channels, which are mechanical stimuli-activated Ca2+ channels40that are expressed in skeletal muscle cells41, can account for this pathogenic Ca2+ influx…

In conclusion, our study revealed that the absence of dystrophin protein induces skeletal muscle damage by allowing excess Ca2+ influx in DMD myotubes. Our experimental system recapitulated the early phase of DMD pathology as demonstrated by visualisation and quantification of Ca2+ influx using intact myotubes differentiated from hiPS cells.  This evaluation system significantly expands prospective applications with regard to assessing the effectiveness of exon-skipping drugs and also enables the discovery of drugs that regulate the initial events in DMD.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects stem cells, University of Ottawa study finds  

New treatments could one day be available for the most common form of muscular dystrophy after a study suggests the debilitating genetic disease affects the stem cells that produce healthy muscle fibres.

The findings are based on research from the University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.

For nearly two decades, doctors had thought the muscular weakness that is the hallmark of the disease was due to problems with human muscle fibers, said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, the study’s senior author.

The new research shows the specific protein characterized by its absence in Duchenne muscular dystrophy normally exists in stem cells.

Dystrophin protein found in stem cells

“The prevailing notion was that the protein that’s missing in Duchenne muscular dystrophy — a protein called dystrophin — was not involved at all in the function of the stem cells.”

When the genetic mutations caused by Duchenne muscular dystrophy inhibit the production of dystrophin in stem cells, those stem cells produce significantly fewer precursor cells — and thus fewer properly functioning muscle fibres.  Further, stem cells need dystrophin to sense their environment to figure out if they need to divide to produce more stem cells or perform muscle repair work.

Genetic repair might treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy

July 25, 2011|By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times

A genetic technique that allows the body to work around a crucial mutation that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy increased the mass and function of muscles in a small group of patients with the devastating disease, paving the way for larger clinical trials of the drug. The study in a handful of boys age 5 to 15 showed that patients receiving the highest level of the drug, called AVI-4658 or eteplirsen, had a significant increase in production of a missing protein and increases in muscle fibers. The study demonstrated that the drug is safe in the short term. Results were reported Sunday in the journal Lancet.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy affects about one in every 3,500 males worldwide. It is caused by any one of several different mutations that affect production of a protein called dystrophin, which is important for the production and maintenance of muscle fibers. Affected patients become unable to walk and must use a wheelchair by age 8 to 12. Deterioration continues through their teens and 20s, and the condition typically proves fatal as muscle failure impairs their ability to breathe.

This study is designed to assess the efficacy, safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics (PK) of AVI-4658 (eteplirsen) in both 50.0 mg/kg and 30.0 mg/kg doses administered over 24 weeks in subjects diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).


Condition Intervention Phase
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Drug: AVI-4658 (Eteplirsen)
Other: Placebo
Phase 2


Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Multiple Dose Efficacy, Safety, Tolerability and Pharmacokinetics Study of AVI-4658(Eteplirsen),in the Treatment of Ambulant Subjects With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
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Dystrophin expression in muscle stem cells regulates their polarity and asymmetric division

Nature Medicine(2015)

Dystrophin is expressed in differentiated myofibers, in which it is required for sarcolemmal integrity, and loss-of-function mutations in the gene that encodes it result in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disease characterized by progressive and severe skeletal muscle degeneration. Here we found that dystrophin is also highly expressed in activated muscle stem cells (also known as satellite cells), in which it associates with the serine-threonine kinase Mark2 (also known as Par1b), an important regulator of cell polarity. In the absence of dystrophin, expression of Mark2 protein is downregulated, resulting in the inability to localize the cell polarity regulator Pard3 to the opposite side of the cell. Consequently, the number of asymmetric divisions is strikingly reduced in dystrophin-deficient satellite cells, which also display a loss of polarity, abnormal division patterns (including centrosome amplification), impaired mitotic spindle orientation and prolonged cell divisions. Altogether, these intrinsic defects strongly reduce the generation of myogenic progenitors that are needed for proper muscle regeneration. Therefore, we conclude that dystrophin has an essential role in the regulation of satellite cell polarity and asymmetric division. Our findings indicate that muscle wasting in DMD not only is caused by myofiber fragility, but also is exacerbated by impaired regeneration owing to intrinsic satellite cell dysfunction.


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