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1.  Risk assessment and genetic counseling in families with Duchenne muscular dystrophy 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(3):179-183.
The Duchenne Muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most frequent muscle disorder in childhood caused by mutations in the Xlinked dystrophin gene (about 65% deletions, about 7% duplications, about 26% point mutations and about 2% unknown mutations). The clinically milder Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) is allelic to DMD. About 33% of all patients are due to de novo mutations and germ line mosaicism is frequently observed. While in earlier studies equal mutation rates in males and females had been reported, a breakdown by mutation types can better explain the sex ratio of mutations: Point mutations and duplications arise preferentially during spermatogenesis whereas deletions mostly arise in oogenesis.
With current analytical methods, the underlying mutation can be identified in the great majority of cases and be used for carrier detection. However, in families with no mutation carrier available, the genetic model to be used for counselling of relatives can be quite complex.
PMCID: PMC3631803  PMID: 23620649
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Becker muscular dystrophy; dystrophin gene; molecular genetic diagnosis; genetic model; germ line mosaicism
2.  Functional significance of dystrophin positive fibres in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1993;68(5):632-636.
The age when boys lose the ability to walk independently is one of the milestones in the progression of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We have used this as a measure of disease severity in a group of 30 patients with DMD and six patients with intermediate Duchenne/Becker dystrophy (D/BMD). Dystrophin analysis was performed on tissue sections and western blots of muscle biopsy specimens from these patients and the relationships that were found between clinical severity and abundance of dystrophin labelling are reported. All patients with intermediate D/BMD had dystrophin labelling that was detected on sections and blots. Weak dystrophin labelling was found in sections from 21/30 DMD cases and on blots in 18/30 cases. Two non-exclusive patterns of dystrophin labelling were observed on sections: very clear labelling on a small percentage of fibres (usually < 1%) or very weak labelling on a much higher proportion (about 25%). The mean age at loss of mobility among the DMD patients with no dystrophin labelling on tissue sections was 7.9 years (range 6.3-9.5) while the mean age among those with some labelling was 9.9 years (range 8.0-11.9); this is a significant difference. Quantitative estimates of dystrophin abundance were obtained from densitometric analysis of dystrophin bands on blots. In the whole group of 36 patients, a significant positive relationship was found between the abundance of dystrophin and the age at loss of independent mobility. It is concluded that even the very low concentrations of dystrophin found in DMD patients may have some functional significance.
PMCID: PMC1029331  PMID: 8323331
3.  Clinical and Genetic Characterization of Manifesting Carriers of DMD Mutations 
Neuromuscular disorders : NMD  2010;20(8):499-504.
Manifesting carriers of DMD gene mutations may present diagnostic challenges, particularly in the absence of a family history of dystrophinopathy. We review the clinical and genetic features in fifteen manifesting carriers identified among 860 subjects within the United Dystrophinopathy Project, a large clinical dystrophinopathy cohort whose members undergo comprehensive DMD mutation analysis. We defined manifesting carriers as females with significant weakness, excluding those with only myalgias/cramps. DNA extracted from peripheral blood was used to study X chromosome inactivation patterns. Among these manifesting carriers, age at symptom onset ranged from 2 to 47 years. Seven had no family history and eight had male relatives with Duchene muscular dystrophy (DMD). Clinical severity among the manifesting carriers varied from a DMD-like progression to a very mild Becker muscular dystrophy-like phenotype. Eight had exonic deletions or duplications and six had point mutations. One patient had two mutations (an exonic deletion and a splice site mutation), consistent with a heterozygous compound state. The X chromosome inactivation pattern was skewed toward nonrandom in four out of seven informative deletions or duplications but was random in all cases with nonsense mutations. We present the results of DMD mutation analysis in this manifesting carrier cohort, including the first example of a presumably compound heterozygous DMD mutation. Our results demonstrate that improved molecular diagnostic methods facilitate the identification of DMD mutations in manifesting carriers, and confirm the heterogeneity of mutational mechanisms as well as the wide spectrum of phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2944769  PMID: 20630757
manifesting carriers; dystrophinopathy; DMD; dystrophin; X-chromosome inactivation; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Becker muscular dystrophy
4.  Dilated cardiomyopathy and the dystrophin gene: an illustrated review. 
British Heart Journal  1994;72(4):344-348.
Cardiomyopathy is often found in patients with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, which are X linked muscle diseases caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Dystrophin defects present in many different ways and cases of mild Becker muscular dystrophy have been described in which cardiomyopathy was severe. Female carriers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy can develop symptomatic skeletal myopathy alone or combined with dilated cardiomyopathy. They can also develop dilated cardiomyopathy alone. X linked dilated cardiomyopathy has been found in association with dystrophin defects. The relation between the molecular defects and the cardiac phenotypes has not yet been established. New mutations in the dystrophin gene are common and such mutations cause one third of the cases with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. This means that sporadic cases of cardiomyopathy caused by dystrophin defects are likely. This paper reports such a case in a boy of 14 who died of dilated cardiomyopathy. Before the cardiac investigation, which was performed one month before he died, he had not complained of muscular weakness. He had minor signs of limb girdle myopathy and slightly increased concentrations of serum creatine kinase. He was found to have an unusual deletion in the dystrophin gene.
PMCID: PMC1025544  PMID: 7833192
5.  Targeting Fibrosis in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common genetic muscle disease affecting 1 in 3,500 live male births. It is an X-linked recessive disease caused by a defective dystrophin gene. The disease is characterized by progressive limb weakness, respiratory and cardiac failure and premature death. Fibrosis is a prominent pathological feature of muscle biopsies from patients with DMD. It directly causes muscle dysfunction and contributes to the lethal DMD phenotype. Although gene therapy and cell therapy may ultimately provide a cure for DMD, currently the disease is devastating, with no effective therapies. Recent studies have demonstrated that ameliorating muscle fibrosis may represent a viable therapeutic approach for DMD. By reducing scar formation, antifibrotic therapies may not only improve muscle function but also enhance muscle regeneration and promote gene and stem cell engraftment. Antifibrotic therapy may serve as a necessary addition to gene and cell therapies to treat DMD in the future. Therefore, understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying muscle fibrogenesis associated with dystrophin deficiency is key to the development of effective antifibrotic therapies for DMD.
PMCID: PMC2916968  PMID: 20613637
Antifibrotic therapy; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Muscle fibrosis
6.  Molecular characterization of the 5′-UTR of retinal dystrophin reveals a cryptic intron that regulates translational activity 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:2590-2597.
Mutations in the dystrophin (DMD) gene cause Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD/BMD). DMD contains a retina-specific promoter in intron 29. The short R-dystrophin transcript from this promoter has a retina-specific exon 1 (R1) joined to exon 30 of the DMD gene. It has been claimed that this is responsible for the ophthalmological problems observed in DMD/BMD. This research characterizes the structure of the 5′-untranslated region (5′-UTR) of human R-dystrophin.
The 5′-UTR of the human R-dystrophin transcript was amplified from human retina and 20 other human tissue RNAs by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR). Amplified products were identified by sequencing. The translational activities of transcripts bearing differing 5′-UTRs were measured using a dual luciferase assay system.
RT–PCR amplification of the R-dystrophin transcript from the retina using a conventional primer set revealed one product comprising exon R1 and exons 30 to 32 (R-dys α). In contrast, three amplified products were obtained when a forward primer at the far 5′-end of exon R1 was employed for RT–PCR. R-dys α, and a shorter form in which 98 bp was deleted from exon R1 (R-dys β), were the two major products. A minor, short form was also identified, in which 143 bp was deleted from exon R1 (R-dys γ). The two primary retinal products (R-dys α and β) encoded an identical open reading frame. The 98 bp deleted in R-dys β was identified as a cryptic intron that was evolutionarily acquired in higher mammals. The shorter R-dys β was expressed in several tissues with a wide range in expression level, while R-dys α was retina specific. The 5′-UTRs of R-dys α and β were examined for translational activity using a dual luciferase assay system. Unexpectedly, the 5′-UTR of R-dys β showed lower translational activity than that of R-dys α. This lower activity was presumed to be due to the removal of internal ribosome entry sites by activation of cryptic intron splicing.
An evolutionarily-acquired cryptic intron was identified in the 5′-UTR of the human R-dystrophin transcript. The two abundant R-dystrophin transcripts in the retina showed different translational activities in vitro owing to their differential splicing of the cryptic intron. This evolutionarily-acquired alternative splicing may act as a molecular switch that regulates translation of the R-dystrophin transcript.
PMCID: PMC3000234  PMID: 21151598
7.  Investigation of a female manifesting Becker muscular dystrophy. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1992;29(8):578-582.
Females manifesting Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) are even more rarely observed than for the allelic condition Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The male proband has typical BMD with greatly raised CK activity and a myopathic muscle biopsy. His mother experienced walking difficulties from 35 years of age and has a myopathy with marked calf hypertrophy, a raised CK, and a myopathic muscle biopsy. Dystrophin analysis was undertaken on both the proband and his mother. Immunoblotting showed a protein of normal size but of reduced abundance in both. Immunocytochemical analysis in the proband indicated that the majority of the fibres showed weak dystrophin labelling and in his mother both dystrophin positive and dystrophin negative fibres were present. Non-random X inactivation at locus DXS255, was observed in DNA isolated from peripheral lymphocytes of the mother. Neither extended multiplex PCR performed on DNA from the proband nor analysis of lymphocyte derived mRNA showed a structural alteration in the dystrophin gene suggesting that an unusual mutation was responsible for BMD in this family.
PMCID: PMC1016067  PMID: 1518025
8.  Microarray-based mutation detection in the dystrophin gene 
Human mutation  2008;29(9):1091-1099.
Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DMD and BMD) are X-linked recessive neuromuscular disorders caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene affecting approximately 1 in 3,500 males. The human dystrophin gene spans > 2,200 kb, or roughly 0.1% of the genome, and is composed of 79 exons. The mutational spectrum of disease-causing alleles, including exonic copy number variations (CNVs), is complex. Deletions account for approximately 65% of DMD mutations and 85% of BMD mutations. Duplications occur in approximately 6–10% of males with either DMD or BMD. The remaining 30–35% of mutations consist of small deletions, insertions, point mutations, or splicing mutations, most of which introduce a premature stop codon. Laboratory analysis of dystrophin can be used to confirm a clinical diagnosis of DMD, characterize the type of dystrophin mutation, and perform prenatal testing and carrier testing for females. Current dystrophin diagnostic assays involve a variety of methodologies, including multiplex PCR, Southern blot analysis, MLPA, DOVAM-S, and SCAIP; however, these methods are time-consuming, laborious, and do not accurately detect duplication mutations in the dystrophin gene. Furthermore, carrier testing in females is often difficult when a related affected male is unavailable. Here we describe the development, design, validation, and implementation of a high-resolution CGH microarray-based approach capable of accurately detecting both deletions and duplications in the dystrophin gene. This assay can be readily adopted by clinical molecular testing laboratories and represents a rapid, cost-effective approach for screening a large gene, such as dystrophin.
PMCID: PMC2574813  PMID: 18663755
dystrophin; microarray; CGH array; Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; DMD; Becker Muscular Dystrophy; BMD; exonic-copy number variation; CNV
9.  Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy: Contribution of a Molecular and Immunohistochemical Analysis in Diagnosis in Morocco 
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) are X-linked recessive disorders caused by mutations of the DMD gene located at Xp21. In DMD patients, dystrophin is virtually absent; whereas BMD patients have 10% to 40% of the normal amount. Deletions in the dystrophin gene represent 65% of mutations in DMD/BMD patients. To explain the contribution of immunohistochemical and genetic analysis in the diagnosis of these dystrophies, we present 10 cases of DMD/BMD with particular features. We have analyzed the patients with immunohistochemical staining and PCR multiplex to screen for exons deletions. Determination of the quantity and distribution of dystrophin by immunohistochemical staining can confirm the presence of dystrophinopathy and allows differentiation between DMD and BMD, but dystrophin staining is not always conclusive in BMD. Therefore, only identification involved mutation by genetic analysis can establish a correct diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC2683945  PMID: 19461958
10.  Introduction of a human-specific deletion in mouse Cmah increases disease severity in the mdx model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy 
Science translational medicine  2010;2(42):42ra54.
The evolution of humans included introduction of an inactivating deletion in the CMAH gene, which eliminated biosynthesis of N-glycolylneuraminic acid from all human cells. Here we show that this human-specific sialylation change contributes to the marked discrepancy in phenotype between the mdx mouse model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and the human disease. Despite lacking dystrophin protein in almost all muscle cells, mdx mice show slower development, relative to overall lifespan, or reduced severity of a number of clinically relevant disease phenotypes compared to DMD patients. This is especially true for loss of ambulation, cardiac and respiratory muscle weakness, and loss of lifespan, all major phenotypes contributing to DMD morbidity and mortality. All these phenotypes occur at an earlier age or to a greater degree in mdx mice bearing a human-like mutation in the mouse Cmah gene. Altered phenotypes correlate with changes in two mechanisms; reduced strength and expression of the dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex and increased activation of complement. Activation of complement may be driven by the increased expression of anti-Neu5Gc antibodies in Cmah−/−mdx animals and ultimately by uptake of N-glycolylneuraminic acid, a foreign glycan in humans and Cmah-deficient mice, from dietary sources. Cmah-deficient mdx mice represent a new small animal model for DMD that better approximates the human glycome and its contributions to muscular dystrophy.
PMCID: PMC2950110  PMID: 20668298
11.  DMD exon 1 truncating point mutations: amelioration of phenotype by alternative translation initiation in exon 6 
Human mutation  2009;30(4):633-640.
Mutations in the DMD gene result in two common phenotypes associated with progressive muscle weakness: the more severe Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and the milder Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD). We have previously identified a nonsense mutation (c.9G>A; p.Trp3X) within the first exon of the DMD gene, encoding the unique N-terminus of the 427 kDa muscle isoform of the dystrophin protein. Although this mutation would be expected to result in severe disease, the clinical phenotype is very mild BMD, with ambulation preserved into the 7th decade. We identify the molecular mechanism responsible for the amelioration of disease severity to be initiation of translation at two proximate AUG codons within exon 6. Analysis of large mutational data sets suggests that this may be a general mechanism of phenotypic rescue for point mutations within at least the first two exons of the DMD gene. Our results directly demonstrate, for the first time, the use of alternate translational initiation codons within the DMD gene, and suggest that dystrophin protein lacking amino acids encoded by the first five exons retains significant function.
PMCID: PMC2663021  PMID: 19206170
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; DMD; Becker Muscular Dystrophy; BMD; dystrophinopathy; translation; truncating mutations
12.  Dysfunctional Muscle and Liver Glycogen Metabolism in mdx Dystrophic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91514.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe, genetic muscle wasting disorder characterised by progressive muscle weakness. DMD is caused by mutations in the dystrophin (dmd) gene resulting in very low levels or a complete absence of the dystrophin protein, a key structural element of muscle fibres which is responsible for the proper transmission of force. In the absence of dystrophin, muscle fibres become damaged easily during contraction resulting in their degeneration. DMD patients and mdx mice (an animal model of DMD) exhibit altered metabolic disturbances that cannot be attributed to the loss of dystrophin directly. We tested the hypothesis that glycogen metabolism is defective in mdx dystrophic mice.
Dystrophic mdx mice had increased skeletal muscle glycogen (79%, (P<0.01)). Skeletal muscle glycogen synthesis is initiated by glycogenin, the expression of which was increased by 50% in mdx mice (P<0.0001). Glycogen synthase activity was 12% higher (P<0.05) but glycogen branching enzyme activity was 70% lower (P<0.01) in mdx compared with wild-type mice. The rate-limiting enzyme for glycogen breakdown, glycogen phosphorylase, had 62% lower activity (P<0.01) in mdx mice resulting from a 24% reduction in PKA activity (P<0.01). In mdx mice glycogen debranching enzyme expression was 50% higher (P<0.001) together with starch-binding domain protein 1 (219% higher; P<0.01). In addition, mdx mice were glucose intolerant (P<0.01) and had 30% less liver glycogen (P<0.05) compared with control mice. Subsequent analysis of the enzymes dysregulated in skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism in mdx mice identified reduced glycogenin protein expression (46% less; P<0.05) as a possible cause of this phenotype.
We identified that mdx mice were glucose intolerant, and had increased skeletal muscle glycogen but reduced amounts of liver glycogen.
PMCID: PMC3953428  PMID: 24626262
13.  Clinical and molecular characterization of a cohort of patients with novel nucleotide alterations of the Dystrophin gene detected by direct sequencing 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:37.
Duchenne and Becker Muscular dystrophies (DMD/BMD) are allelic disorders caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which encodes a sarcolemmal protein responsible for muscle integrity. Deletions and duplications account for approximately 75% of mutations in DMD and 85% in BMD. The implementation of techniques allowing complete gene sequencing has focused attention on small point mutations and other mechanisms underlying complex rearrangements.
We selected 47 patients (41 families; 35 DMD, 6 BMD) without deletions and duplications in DMD gene (excluded by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and multiplex polymerase chain reaction analysis). This cohort was investigated by systematic direct sequence analysis to study sequence variation. We focused our attention on rare mutational events which were further studied through transcript analysis.
We identified 40 different nucleotide alterations in DMD gene and their clinical correlates; altogether, 16 mutations were novel. DMD probands carried 9 microinsertions/microdeletions, 19 nonsense mutations, and 7 splice-site mutations. BMD patients carried 2 nonsense mutations, 2 splice-site mutations, 1 missense substitution, and 1 single base insertion. The most frequent stop codon was TGA (n = 10 patients), followed by TAG (n = 7) and TAA (n = 4). We also analyzed the molecular mechanisms of five rare mutational events. They are two frame-shifting mutations in the DMD gene 3'end in BMD and three novel splicing defects: IVS42: c.6118-3C>A, which causes a leaky splice-site; c.9560A>G, which determines a cryptic splice-site activation and c.9564-426 T>G, which creates pseudoexon retention within IVS65.
The analysis of our patients' sample, carrying point mutations or complex rearrangements in DMD gene, contributes to the knowledge on phenotypic correlations in dystrophinopatic patients and can provide a better understanding of pre-mRNA maturation defects and dystrophin functional domains. These data can have a prognostic relevance and can be useful in directing new therapeutic approaches, which rely on a precise definition of the genetic defects as well as their molecular consequences.
PMCID: PMC3061890  PMID: 21396098
14.  Tadalafil alleviates muscle ischemia in patients with Becker muscular dystrophy 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(162):162ra155.
Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) is a progressive X-linked muscle wasting disease for which there is no treatment. Like Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), BMD is caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, a structural cytoskeletal protein that also targets other proteins to the muscle sarcolemma. Among these is neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOSμ), which requires certain spectrin-like repeats in dystrophin’s rod domain and the adaptor protein α-syntrophin to be targeted to the sarcolemma. When healthy skeletal muscle is subjected to exercise, sarcolemmal nNOSμ-derived nitric oxide (NO) attenuates local α-adrenergic vasoconstriction thereby optimizing perfusion of muscle. We found previously that this protective mechanism is defective—causing functional muscle ischemia—in dystrophin-deficient muscles of the mdx mouse (a model of DMD) and of children with DMD, in whom nNOSμ is mislocalized to the cytosol instead of the sarcolemma. Here, we report that this protective mechanism also is defective in men with BMD in whom the most common dystrophin mutations disrupt sarcolemmal targeting of nNOSμ. In these men, the vasoconstrictor response, measured as a decrease in muscle oxygenation, to reflex sympathetic activation is not appropriately attenuated during exercise of the dystrophic muscles. In a randomized placebo-controlled cross-over trial, we show that functional muscle ischemia is alleviated and normal blood flow regulation fully restored in the muscles of men with BMD by boosting NO-cGMP signaling with a single dose of the drug tadalafil, a phosphodiesterase (PDE5A) inhibitor. These results further support an essential role for sarcolemmal nNOSμ in the normal modulation of sympathetic vasoconstriction in exercising human skeletal muscle and implicate the NO-cGMP pathway as a putative new target for treating BMD.
PMCID: PMC3935430  PMID: 23197572
15.  Assessment of the structural and functional impact of in-frame mutations of the DMD gene, using the tools included in the eDystrophin online database 
Dystrophin is a large essential protein of skeletal and heart muscle. It is a filamentous scaffolding protein with numerous binding domains. Mutations in the DMD gene, which encodes dystrophin, mostly result in the deletion of one or several exons and cause Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies. The most common DMD mutations are frameshift mutations resulting in an absence of dystrophin from tissues. In-frame DMD mutations are less frequent and result in a protein with partial wild-type dystrophin function. The aim of this study was to highlight structural and functional modifications of dystrophin caused by in-frame mutations.
Methods and results
We developed a dedicated database for dystrophin, the eDystrophin database. It contains 209 different non frame-shifting mutations found in 945 patients from a French cohort and previous studies. Bioinformatics tools provide models of the three-dimensional structure of the protein at deletion sites, making it possible to determine whether the mutated protein retains the typical filamentous structure of dystrophin. An analysis of the structure of mutated dystrophin molecules showed that hybrid repeats were reconstituted at the deletion site in some cases. These hybrid repeats harbored the typical triple coiled-coil structure of native repeats, which may be correlated with better function in muscle cells.
This new database focuses on the dystrophin protein and its modification due to in-frame deletions in BMD patients. The observation of hybrid repeat reconstitution in some cases provides insight into phenotype-genotype correlations in dystrophin diseases and possible strategies for gene therapy. The eDystrophin database is freely available:
PMCID: PMC3748829  PMID: 22776072
Dystrophin; DMD gene mutations; Spectrin-like repeats; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Becker muscular dystrophy; Phenotype-genotype correlation
16.  Generation of Embryonic Stem Cells and Mice for Duchenne Research 
PLoS Currents  2013;
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a muscle-wasting disease in which muscle is continuously damaged, resulting in loss of muscle tissue and function. Antisense-mediated exon skipping is a promising therapeutic approach for DMD. This method uses sequence specific antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) to reframe disrupted dystrophin transcripts. As AONs function in a sequence specific manner, human specific AONs cannot be tested in the mdx mouse, which carries a mutation in the murine Dmd gene. We have previously generated a mouse model carrying the complete human DMD gene (hDMD mouse) integrated in the mouse genome to overcome this problem. However, as this is not a disease model, it cannot be used to study the effect of AON treatment on protein level and muscle function. Therefore, our long term goal is to generate deletions in the human DMD gene in a mouse carrying the hDMD gene in an mdx background. Towards this aim, we generated a male ES cell line carrying the hDMD gene while having the mdx point mutation. Inheritance of the hDMD gene by the ES cell was confirmed both on DNA and mRNA level. Quality control of the ES cells revealed that the pluripotency marker genes Oct-4 and Nanog are well expressed and that 85% of cells have 40 chromosomes. Germ line competence of this cell line has been confirmed, and 2 mice strains were derived from this cell line and crossed back on a C57BL6 background: hDMD/mdx and mdx(BL6).
PMCID: PMC3775890  PMID: 24057032
17.  Genetic Analysis of Dystrophin Gene for Affected Male and Female Carriers with Duchenne/Becker Muscular Dystrophy in Korea 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2012;27(3):274-280.
Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD/BMD) are X-linked recessive disorders caused by mutation in dystrophin gene. We analyzed the results of a genetic test in 29 DMD/BMD patients, their six female relatives, and two myopathic female patients in Korea. As the methods developed, we applied different procedures for dystrophin gene analysis; initially, multiplex polymerase chain reaction was used, followed by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). Additionally, we used direct DNA sequencing for some patients who had negative results using the above methods. The overall mutation detection rate was 72.4% (21/29) in DMD/BMD patients, identifying deletions in 58.6% (17/29). Most of the deletions were confined to the central hot spot region between exons 44 and 55 (52.9%, 7/19). The percentage of deletions and duplications revealed by MLPA was 45.5% (5/11) and 27.2% (3/11), respectively. Using the MLPA method, we detected mutations confirming their carrier status in all female relatives and symptomatic female patients. In one patient in whom MLPA revealed a single exon deletion of the dystrophin gene, subsequent DNA sequencing analysis identified a novel nonsense mutation (c.4558G > T; Gln1520X). The MLPA assay is a useful quantitative method for detecting mutation in asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers as well as DMD/BMD patients.
PMCID: PMC3286774  PMID: 22379338
Gene Amplification; Duchenne/Becker Muscular Dystrophy; Deletion; Duplication
18.  Prednisolone Treatment Does Not Interfere with 2′-O-Methyl Phosphorothioate Antisense-Mediated Exon Skipping in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Human Gene Therapy  2011;23(3):262-273.
In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), dystrophin deficiency leading to progressive muscular degeneration is caused by frame-shifting mutations in the DMD gene. Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) aim to restore the reading frame by skipping of a specific exon(s), thereby allowing the production of a shorter, but semifunctional protein, as is found in the mostly more mildly affected patients with Becker muscular dystrophy. AONs are currently being investigated in phase 3 placebo-controlled clinical trials. Most of the participating patients are treated symptomatically with corticosteroids (mainly predniso[lo]ne) to stabilize the muscle fibers, which might affect the uptake and/or efficiency of AONs. Therefore the effect of prednisolone on 2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate AON efficacy in patient-derived cultured muscle cells and the mdx mouse model (after local and systemic AON treatment) was assessed in this study. Both in vitro and in vivo skip efficiency and biomarker expression were comparable between saline- and prednisolone-cotreated cells and mice. After systemic exon 23-specific AON (23AON) treatment for 8 weeks, dystrophin was detectable in all treated mice. Western blot analyses indicated slightly higher dystrophin levels in prednisolone-treated mice, which might be explained by better muscle condition and consequently more target dystrophin pre-mRNA. In addition, fibrotic and regeneration biomarkers were normalized to some extent in prednisolone- and/or 23AON-treated mice. Overall these results show that the use of prednisone forms no barrier to participation in clinical trials with AONs.
Verhaart and colleagues examine the effects of prednisolone, a corticosteroid, on the function of antisense oligonucleotide (AON) therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. They show that prednisolone treatment does not interfere with AON uptake and exon-skipping levels in patient-derived muscle cells in vitro and in mdx mice in vivo. In fact, they suggest that prednisolone might even enhance the dystrophin expression induced by exon 23-specific AONs in mdx mice.
PMCID: PMC3300076  PMID: 22017442
19.  Three Cases of Manifesting Female Carriers in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2010;52(1):192-195.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy usually affects males. However, females are also affected in rare instances. Approximately 8% of female Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) carriers are manifesting carriers and have muscle weakness to some extent. We investigated the clinical features of 3 female patients with dystrophinopathy diagnosed by clinical, pathological, and genetic studies at our neuromuscular disease clinic. The onset age of manifesting symptoms varied (8-28 years). Muscle weakness grade varied as follows: patient 1 showed asymmetrical bilateral proximal upper and lower extremities weakness, patient 2 showed asymmetrical bilateral upper extremities weakness similar to scapulohumoral muscular dystrophy, and patient 3 had only bilateral asymmetric proximal lower extremities weakness. Two patients had familial histories of DMD (their sons were diagnosed with DMD), but the 1 remaining patient had no familial history of DMD. The serum creatine kinase level was elevated in all patients, but it was not correlated with muscular weakness. An electromyography study showed findings of myopathy in all patients. One patient was diagnosed with a DMD carrier by a muscle biopsy with an immunohistochemical stain (dystrophin). The remaining 2 patients with familial history of DMD were diagnosed by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). There were inconsistent clinical features in the female carriers. An immunohistochemical analysis of dystrophin could be useful for female carrier patients. Also, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification is essential for the diagnosis of a manifesting female carrier DMD in female myopathic patients because conventional multiplex PCR could not detect the duplication and is less accurate compared to MLPA.
PMCID: PMC3017697  PMID: 21155054
Dystrophinopathy; female carrier; multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification
20.  Association Between Loss of Dp140 and Cognitive Impairment in Duchenne and Becker Dystrophies  
The presence of variable degrees of non progressive cognitive impairment is recognized as a clinical feature of patients with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies (DMD and BMD), but its pathogenesis still remains a matter of debate. A number of findings have proved that rearrangements located in the second part of the dystrophin ( DMD ) gene seem to be preferentially associated with cognitive impairment. Dp140 is a distal dystrophin isoform, mainly expressed during fetal brain development, whose role for neuropsychological functioning was suggested.
The aims of the current study were to explore the possible association between cognitive impairment and DNA mutations affecting the regulatory regions of Dp140, as well as to compare the neuropsychological functioning of patients affected with DMD and Intermediate muscular dystrophy (IMD) with those affected by Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). Fiftythree patients genetically diagnosed with DMD, IMD and BMD, subdivided according to sites of mutations along the DMD gene, underwent a neuropsychological assessment, evaluating their general cognitive abilities, verbal memory, attention and executive functions. Twenty patients with mutations, terminating in exon 44 or starting at exon 45 were tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of microsatellites STR44, SK12, SK21 and P20 DXS269, in order to evaluate the integrity of the Dp140 promoter region.
According to our statistical results, there was not a significant difference in terms of general intelligence between the allelic forms of the disease, a higher frequency of mental retardation was observed in DMD patients. The patients with BMD had better results on tests, measuring long-term verbal learning memory and executive functions. We found that patients lacking Dp140 performed more poorly on all neuropsychological tests compared to those with preserved Dp140. Overall, our findings suggest that the loss of Dp140 is associated with a higher risk of intellectual impairment among patients with dystrophinopathies and highlights the possible role of this distal isoform in normal cognitive development.
doi: 10.2478/bjmg-2013-0014
PMCID: PMC3835293  PMID: 24265581
Cognitive impairment ;  Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) ;  Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) Dystrophin ( DMD ) gene ;  Intermediate muscular dystrophy (IMD) ;  Dp140 isoform ;  Dystrophinopathies
21.  Mammalian Models of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Pathological Characteristics and Therapeutic Applications 
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating X-linked muscle disorder characterized by muscle wasting which is caused by mutations in the DMD gene. The DMD gene encodes the sarcolemmal protein dystrophin, and loss of dystrophin causes muscle degeneration and necrosis. Thus far, therapies for this disorder are unavailable. However, various therapeutic trials based on gene therapy, exon skipping, cell therapy, read through therapy, or pharmaceutical agents have been conducted extensively. In the development of therapy as well as elucidation of pathogenesis in DMD, appropriate animal models are needed. Various animal models of DMD have been identified, and mammalian (murine, canine, and feline) models are indispensable for the examination of the mechanisms of pathogenesis and the development of therapies. Here, we review the pathological features of DMD and therapeutic applications, especially of exon skipping using antisense oligonucleotides and gene therapies using viral vectors in murine and canine models of DMD.
PMCID: PMC3022202  PMID: 21274260
22.  Carrier Woman of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Mimicking Inflammatory Myositis 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2011;26(4):587-591.
Carrier woman of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) can mimic the inflammatory myositis in presenting symptoms. Two diseases should be differentiated by the clinical history, muscle biopsy and genetic study. There are few reports in which both histochemical and genetic study showed the possible link of overlapping inflammatory pathophysiology with dystrophinopathy. We report a 40-yr-old woman who presented with subacute proximal muscle weakness and high serum level of creatine kinase. She had a history of Graves' disease and fluctuation of serum liver aminotransferase without definite cause. MRI, EMG and NCV were compatible with proximal muscle myopathy. Muscle biopsy on vastus lateralis showed suspicious perifascicular atrophy and infiltration of mono-macrophage lineage cells complicating the diagnosis. Dystrophin staining showed heterogeneous diverse findings from normal to interrupted mosaic pattern. Multiple ligation probe amplification and X chromosome inactivation test confirmed DMD gene deletion mutation in exon 44 and highly skewed X inactivation.
PMCID: PMC3069583  PMID: 21468271
Muscular Diseases; Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne; Carriers State
23.  Dystromirs as Serum Biomarkers for Monitoring the Disease Severity in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80263.
Duchenne muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is an inherited disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene that disrupt the open reading frame, while in frame mutations result in Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD). Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) is due to mutations affecting collagen VI genes. Specific muscle miRNAs (dystromirs) are potential non-invasive biomarkers for monitoring the outcome of therapeutic interventions and disease progression. We quantified miR-1, miR-133a,b, miR-206 and miR-31 in serum from patients with DMD, BMD, UCMD and healthy controls. MiR-1, miR-133a,b and miR-206 were upregulated in DMD, but unchanged in UCMD compared to controls. Milder DMD patients had higher levels of dystromirs than more severely affected patients. Patients with low forced vital capacity (FVC) values, indicating respiratory muscle weakness, had low levels of serum miR-1 and miR-133b. There was no significant difference in the level of the dystromirs in BMD compared to controls.
We also assessed the effect of dystrophin restoration on the expression of the five dystromirs in serum of DMD patients treated systemically for 12 weeks with antisense oligomer eteplirsen that induces skipping of exon 51 in the dystrophin gene. The dystromirs were also analysed in muscle biopsies of DMD patients included in a single dose intramuscular eteplirsen clinical trial. Our analysis detected a trend towards normalization of these miRNA between the pre- and post-treatment samples of the systemic trial, which however failed to reach statistical significance. This could possibly be due to the small number of patients and the short duration of these clinical trials.
Although longer term studies are needed to clarify the relationship between dystrophin restoration following therapeutic intervention and the level of circulating miRNAs, our results indicate that miR-1 and miR-133 can be considered as exploratory biomarkers for monitoring the progression of muscle weakness and indirectly the remaining muscle mass in DMD.
PMCID: PMC3840009  PMID: 24282529
24.  Low incidence of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2C revealed by a mutation study in Japanese patients clinically diagnosed with DMD 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:49.
Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2C (LGMD2C) is an autosomal recessive muscle dystrophy that resembles Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Although DMD is known to affect one in every 3500 males regardless of race, a widespread founder mutation causing LGMD2C has been described in North Africa. However, the incidence of LGMD2C in Japanese has been unknown because the genetic background remains uncharacterized in many patients clinically diagnosed with DMD.
We enrolled 324 patients referred to the Kobe University Hospital with suspected DMD. Mutations in the dystrophin or the SGCG genes were analyzed using not only genomic DNA but also cDNA.
In 322 of the 324 patients, responsible mutations in the dystrophin were successfully revealed, confirming DMD diagnosis. The remaining two patients had normal dystrophin expression but absence of γ-sarcoglycan in skeletal muscle. Mutation analysis of the SGCG gene revealed homozygous deletion of exon 6 in one patient, while the other had a novel single nucleotide insertion in exon 7 in one allele and deletion of exon 6 in the other allele. These mutations created a stop codon that led to a γ-sarcoglycan deficiency, and we therefore diagnosed these two patients as having LGMD2C. Thus, the relative incidence of LGMD2C among Japanese DMD-like patients can be calculated as 1 in 161 patients suspected to have DMD (2 of 324 patients = 0.6%). Taking into consideration the DMD incidence for the overall population (1/3,500 males), the incidence of LGMD2C can be estimated as 1 per 560,000 or 1.8 per million.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a low incidence of LGMD2C in the Japanese population.
PMCID: PMC2861025  PMID: 20350330
25.  Functional muscle ischemia in Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy 
Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DMD/BMD) comprise a spectrum of devastating X-linked muscle wasting disease for which there is no treatment. DMD/BMD is caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, a cytoskeletal protein that stabilizes the muscle membrane and also targets other proteins to the sarcolemma. Among these is the muscle-specific isoform of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOSμ) which binds spectrin-like repeats within dystrophin's rod domain and the adaptor protein α-syntrophin. Dystrophin deficiency causes loss of sarcolemmal nNOSμ and reduces paracrine signaling of muscle-derived nitric oxide (NO) to the microvasculature, which renders the diseased muscle fibers susceptible to functional muscle ischemia during exercise. Repeated bouts of functional ischemia superimposed on muscle fibers already weakened by dystrophin deficiency result in use-dependent focal muscle injury. Genetic and pharmacologic strategies to boost nNOSμ-NO signaling in dystrophic muscle alleviate functional muscle ischemia and show promise as novel therapeutic interventions for the treatment of DMD/BMD.
PMCID: PMC3866652  PMID: 24391598
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; neuronal nitric oxide synthase; exercise; functional sympatholysis; sympathetic vasoconstriction

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