Approximately 13% of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) have a nonsense mutation in the dystrophin gene, resulting in a premature stop codon in the corresponding mRNA and failure to generate a functional protein. Ataluren (PTC124) enables ribosomal readthrough of premature stop codons, leading to production of full-length, functional proteins.
This Phase 2a open-label, sequential dose-ranging trial recruited 38 boys with nonsense mutation DMD. The first cohort (n = 6) received ataluren three times per day at morning, midday, and evening doses of 4, 4, and 8 mg/kg; the second cohort (n = 20) was dosed at 10, 10, 20 mg/kg; and the third cohort (n = 12) was dosed at 20, 20, 40 mg/kg. Treatment duration was 28 days. Change in full-length dystrophin expression, as assessed by immunostaining in pre- and post-treatment muscle biopsy specimens, was the primary endpoint.
Twenty three of 38 (61%) subjects demonstrated increases in post-treatment dystrophin expression in a quantitative analysis assessing the ratio of dystrophin/spectrin. A qualitative analysis also showed positive changes in dystrophin expression. Expression was not associated with nonsense mutation type or exon location. Ataluren trough plasma concentrations active in the mdx mouse model were consistently achieved at the mid- and high- dose levels in participants. Ataluren was generally well tolerated.
Ataluren showed activity and safety in this short-term study, supporting evaluation of ataluren 10, 10, 20 mg/kg and 20, 20, 40 mg/kg in a Phase 2b, double-blind, long-term study in nonsense mutation DMD.
Myosin VI is the only known reverse-direction myosin motor. It has an unprecedented means of amplifying movements within the motor involving rearrangements of the converter subdomain at the C-terminus of the motor and an unusual lever arm projecting from the converter. While the average step size of a myosin VI dimer is 30–36nm, the step size is highly variable, presenting a challenge to the lever arm mechanism by which all myosins are thought to move. Herein we present new structures of myosin VI that reveal regions of compliance that allow an uncoupling of the lead head when movement is modeled on actin. The location of the compliance restricts the possible actin binding sites and predicts the observed stepping behavior. The model reveals that myosin VI, unlike plus-end directed myosins, does not use a pure lever arm mechanism, but instead steps with a mechanism analogous to the kinesin neck-linker uncoupling model.
Molecular motors such as myosins are allosteric enzymes that power essential motility functions in the cell and structural biology is an important tool to decipher how these motors work. Force is produced by myosins upon the actin-driven conformational changes that control the sequential release of the hydrolysis products of ATP (Pi followed by ADP). These conformational changes are amplified by a “lever arm” that includes the region of the motor known as the converter and the adjacent elongated light chain binding region. Analysis of four structural states of the motor provides a detailed understanding of the rearrangements and pathways of communication in the motor necessary for detachment from the actin track and repriming of the motor. However, the important part of the cycle in which force is produced remains enigmatic and awaits new high resolution structures. The value of a structural approach is particularly evident from the clues that have been provided from the structural states of the reverse myosin VI motor. Crystallographic structures have revealed that rearrangements within the converter subdomain occur which explains why this myosin can produce a large stroke in the opposite direction of all other myosins despite a very short lever arm. By providing detailed understanding of the motor rearrangements, structural biology will continue to reveal essential information to solve current enigma such as how actin promotes force production, how motors are tuned for specific cellular roles, or how motor/cargo interactions regulate myosin function in the cell.
The purpose of this study was to assess the contractile and non-contractile content in thigh muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and determine the relationship with functional abilities. Magnetic resonance images of the thigh were acquired in 28 boys with DMD and 10 unaffected boys. Muscle strength, timed functional tests, and the Brookes Lower Extremity scale were also assessed. Non-contractile content in the DMD group was significantly greater than in the control group for six muscles, including rectus femoris, biceps femoris-long head and adductor magnus. Non-contractile content in the total thigh musculature assessed by MRI correlated with the Brookes scale (rs=0.75) and supine-up test (rs=0.68), as well as other functional measures. An age-related specific torque increase was observed in the control group (rs=0.96), but not the DMD (rs=0.06). These findings demonstrate that MRI measures of contractile and non-contractile content can provide important information about disease progression in DMD.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; muscle strength; magnetic resonance imaging
Derangements in calcium cycling have been described in failing hearts, and preclinical studies have suggested that therapies aimed at correcting this defect can lead to improvements in cardiac function and survival. One strategy to improve calcium cycling would be to inhibit phospholamban (PLB), the negative regulator of SERCA2a that is upregulated in failing hearts. The goal of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated cardiac gene transfer of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to knock down expression of PLB. Six dogs were treated with self-complementary AAV serotype 6 (scAAV6) expressing shRNA against PLB. Three control dogs were treated with empty AAV6 capsid, and two control dogs were treated with scAAV6 expressing dominant negative PLB. Vector was delivered via a percutaneously inserted cardiac injection catheter. PLB mRNA and protein expression were analyzed in three of six shRNA dogs between days 16 and 26. The other three shRNA dogs and five control dogs were monitored long-term to assess cardiac safety. PLB mRNA was reduced 16-fold, and PLB protein was reduced 5-fold, with treatment. Serum troponin elevation and depressed cardiac function were observed in the shRNA group only at 4 weeks. An enzyme-linked immunospot assay failed to detect any T cells reactive to AAV6 capsid in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, heart, or spleen. Microarray analysis revealed alterations in cardiac expression of several microRNAs with shRNA treatment. AAV6-mediated cardiac gene transfer of shRNA effectively knocks down PLB expression but is associated with severe cardiac toxicity. Toxicity may result from dysregulation of endogenous microRNA pathways.
In this preclinical study, Bish and colleagues report that adeno-associated virus serotype 6 (AAV6)-mediated expression of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed against phospholamban (PLB), a regulator of heart failure (HF), is effective at knocking down PLB expression. Yet, safety assessments revealed that healthy canines treated with shRNA, but not empty AAV6 capsid, experienced serum cardiac troponin I elevation, cardiac dysfunction, and alteration of cardiac microRNA expression, suggesting that this approach may not be a feasible therapeutic strategy.
Myosin V (myoV) is a two-headed myosin capable of taking many successive steps along actin per diffusional encounter, enabling it to transport vesicular and ribonucleoprotein cargos in the dense and complex environment within cells. To better understand how myoV navigates along actin, we used polarized total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to examine angular changes of bifunctional rhodamine probes on the lever arms of single myoV molecules in vitro. With a newly developed analysis technique, the rotational motions of the lever arm and the local orientation of each probe relative to the lever arm were estimated from the probe’s measured orientation. This type of analysis could be applied to similar studies on other motor proteins, as well as other proteins with domains that undergo significant rotational motions. The experiments were performed on recombinant constructs of myoV that had either the native-length (six IQ motifs and calmodulins [CaMs]) or truncated (four IQ motifs and CaMs) lever arms. Native-length myoV-6IQ mainly took straight steps along actin, with occasional small azimuthal tilts around the actin filament. Truncated myoV-4IQ showed an increased frequency of azimuthal steps, but the magnitudes of these steps were nearly identical to those of myoV-6IQ. The results show that the azimuthal deflections of myoV on actin are more common for the truncated lever arm, but the range of these deflections is relatively independent of its lever-arm length.
The yeast class V myosin Myo4p moves processively in vivo in a cargo-dependent manner following formation of a double-headed complex with the adapter protein She3p and the mRNA-binding protein She2p.
Myo4p, one of two class V myosins in budding yeast, continuously transports messenger RNA (mRNA) cargo in the cell but is nonprocessive when characterized in vitro. The adapter protein She3p tightly binds to the Myo4p rod, forming a single-headed motor complex. In this paper, we show that two Myo4p–She3p motors are recruited by the tetrameric mRNA-binding protein She2p to form a processive double-headed complex. The binding site for She3p was mapped to a single α helix that protrudes at right angles from She2p. Processive runs of several micrometers on yeast actin–tropomyosin filaments were observed only in the presence of She2p, and, thus, motor activity is regulated by cargo binding. While moving processively, each head steps ∼72 nm in a hand-over-hand motion. Coupling two high-duty cycle monomeric motors via a common cargo-binding adapter protein creates a complex with transport properties comparable with a single dimeric processive motor such as vertebrate myosin Va.
Anchorage to matrix is mediated for many cells not only by integrin-based focal adhesions but also by a parallel assembly of integral and peripheral membrane proteins known as the Dystroglycan Complex. Deficiencies in either dystrophin (mdx mice) or γ-sarcoglycan (γSG−/− mice) components of the Dystroglycan Complex lead to upregulation of numerous focal adhesion proteins, and the phosphoprotein paxillin proves to be among the most prominent. In mdx muscle, paxillin-Y31 and Y118 are both hyper-phosphorylated as are key sites in focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and the stretch-stimulatable pro-survival MAPK pathway, whereas γSG−/− muscle exhibits more erratic hyper-phosphorylation. In cultured myotubes, cell tension generated by myosin-II appears required for localization of paxillin to adhesions while vinculin appears more stably integrated. Over-expression of wild-type (WT) paxillin has no obvious effect on focal adhesion density or the physical strength of adhesion, but WT and a Y118F mutant promote contractile sarcomere formation whereas a Y31F mutant shows no effect, implicating Y31 in striation. Self-peeling of cells as well as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) probing of cells with or without myosin II inhibition indicate an increase in cell tension within paxillin-overexpressing cells. However, prednisolone, a first-line glucocorticoid for muscular dystrophies, decreases cell tension without affecting paxillin at adhesions, suggesting a non-linear relationship between paxillin and cell tension. Hypertension that results from upregulation of integrin adhesions is thus a natural and treatable outcome of dystroglycan complex down-regulation.
adhesion; contractility; differentiation; paxillin; muscular dystrophy; hypertensive; glucocorticoid
Increased utrophin expression is known to reduce pathology in dystrophin-deficient skeletal muscles. Transgenic over-expression of PGC-1α has been shown to increase levels of utrophin mRNA and improve the histology of mdx muscles. Other reports have shown that PGC-1α signaling can lead to increased oxidative capacity and a fast to slow fiber type shift. Given that it has been shown that slow fibers produce and maintain more utrophin than fast skeletal muscle fibers, we hypothesized that over-expression of PGC-1α in post-natal mdx mice would increase utrophin levels via a fiber type shift, resulting in more slow, oxidative fibers that are also more resistant to contraction-induced damage. To test this hypothesis, neonatal mdx mice were injected with recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) driving expression of PGC-1α. PGC-1α over-expression resulted in increased utrophin and type I myosin heavy chain expression as well as elevated mitochondrial protein expression. Muscles were shown to be more resistant to contraction-induced damage and more fatigue resistant. Sirt-1 was increased while p38 activation and NRF-1 were reduced in PGC-1α over-expressing muscle when compared to control. We also evaluated if the use a pharmacological PGC-1α pathway activator, resveratrol, could drive the same physiological changes. Resveratrol administration (100 mg/kg/day) resulted in improved fatigue resistance, but did not achieve significant increases in utrophin expression. These data suggest that the PGC-1α pathway is a potential target for therapeutic intervention in dystrophic skeletal muscle.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is an X-linked degenerative disorder of muscle caused by the absence of the protein dystrophin. A major consequence of muscular dystrophy is that the normal regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle cannot compensate for increased susceptibility to damage, leading to repetitive cycles of degeneration–regeneration and ultimately resulting in the replacement of muscle fibers with fibrotic tissue. Because insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) has been shown to enhance muscle regeneration and protein synthetic pathways, we asked whether high levels of muscle-specific expression of IGF-I in mdx muscle could preserve muscle function in the diseased state. In transgenic mdx mice expressing mIgf-I (mdx:mIgf+/+), we showed that muscle mass increased by at least 40% leading to similar increases in force generation in extensor digitorum longus muscles compared with those from mdx mice. Diaphragms of transgenic mdx:mIgf+/+ exhibited significant hypertrophy and hyperplasia at all ages observed. Furthermore, the IGF-I expression significantly reduced the amount of fibrosis normally observed in diaphragms from aged mdx mice. Decreased myonecrosis was also observed in diaphragms and quadriceps from mdx:mIgf+/+ mice when compared with age-matched mdx animals. Finally, signaling pathways associated with muscle regeneration and protection against apoptosis were significantly elevated. These results suggest that a combination of promoting muscle regenerative capacity and preventing muscle necrosis could be an effective treatment for the secondary symptoms caused by the primary loss of dystrophin.
IGF-I; muscular dystrophy; satellite cells; regeneration; protein kinase B
Achieving efficient cardiac gene transfer in a large animal model has proven to be technically challenging. Prior strategies have employed cardio-pulmonary bypass or dual catheterization with the aid of vasodilators to deliver vectors, such as adenovirus, adeno-associated virus or plasmid DNA. While single stranded adeno-associated virus vectors have shown the greatest promise, they suffer from delayed expression, which might be circumvented by using self-complementary vectors. We sought to optimize cardiac gene transfer using a percutaneous transendocardial injection catheter to deliver adeno-associated virus vectors to the canine myocardium. Four vectors were evaluated—single stranded adeno-associated virus 9, self-complementary adeno-associated virus 9, self-complementary adeno-associated virus 8, self-complementary adeno-associated virus 6—so that comparison could be made between single stranded and self complementary vectors as well as among serotypes 9, 8, and 6. We demonstrate that self-complementary adeno-associated virus is superior to single stranded adeno-associated virus and that adeno-associated virus 6 is superior to other serotypes evaluated. Biodistribution studies revealed that vector genome copies were 15 to 4000 times more abundant in the heart than in any other organ for self-complementary adeno-associated virus 6. Percutaneous transendocardial injection of self-complementary adeno-associated virus 6 is a safe, effective method for achieving efficient cardiac gene transfer.
Force-bearing linkages between the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix are clearly important to normal cell viability – as is evident in a disease such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) which arises in the absence of the linkage protein dystrophin. Therapeutic approaches to DMD include antisense-mediated skipping of exons to delete nonsense mutations while maintaining reading frame, but the structure and stability of the resulting proteins are generally unclear. Here we express and physically characterize dystrophin ‘nano’-constructs based on multi-exon deletions that might find use in a large percentage of DMD patients. The primary structure challenge is addressed first with Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) which can detect tryptic peptides from 53 of dystrophin’s 79 exons; for equivalent information from immunodetection, 53 different high-specificity antibodies would be required. Folding predictions for the nano-constructs reveal novel helical bundle domains arising out of exon-deleted ‘linkers’, while secondary structure studies confirm high helicity and also melting temperatures well above physiological. Extensional forces with an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) nonetheless unfold the constructs, and the ensemble of unfolding trajectories reveal the number of folded domains, proving consistent with structure predictions. A mechanical cooperativity parameter for unfolding of tandem domains is also introduced as the best predictor of a multi-exon deletion that is asymptomatic in humans. The results thereby provide insight and confidence in exon-skipped designs.
dystrophin; exon skipping; folding; AFM
Preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that calcium homeostasis is dysfunctional in dystrophic muscle. In the current brief report, Morine and colleagues examine whether overexpression of sarcoplasmic reticulum ATPase 1a (SERCA) could reduce muscle damage resulting from calcium homeostasis dysfunction. Using AAV6, the authors found that diaphragm-directed neonatal gene transfer of SERCA in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice resulted in reduced susceptibility to eccentric contraction-induced damage at 6 months of age.
Although the precise pathophysiological mechanism of muscle damage in dystrophin-deficient muscle remains disputed, calcium appears to be a critical mediator of the dystrophic process. Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients and mouse models of dystrophin deficiency exhibit extensive abnormalities of calcium homeostasis, which we hypothesized would be mitigated by increased expression of the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium pump. Neonatal adeno-associated virus gene transfer of sarcoplasmic reticulum ATPase 1a to the mdx diaphragm decreased centrally located nuclei and resulted in reduced susceptibility to eccentric contraction-induced damage at 6 months of age. As the diaphragm is the mouse muscle most representative of human disease, these results provide impetus for further investigation of therapeutic strategies aimed at enhanced cytosolic calcium removal.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, leading to the absence of the dystrophin protein in striated muscle. A significant number of these mutations are premature stop codons. On the basis of the observation that aminoglycoside treatment can suppress stop codons in cultured cells, we tested the effect of gentamicin on cultured muscle cells from the mdx mouse — an animal model for DMD that possesses a premature stop codon in the dystrophin gene. Exposure of mdx myotubes to gentamicin led to the expression and localization of dystrophin to the cell membrane. We then evaluated the effects of differing dosages of gentamicin on expression and functional protection of the muscles of mdx mice. We identified a treatment regimen that resulted in the presence of dystrophin in the cell membrane in all striated muscles examined and that provided functional protection against muscular injury. To our knowledge, our results are the first to demonstrate that aminoglycosides can suppress stop codons not only in vitro but also in vivo. Furthermore, these results raise the possibility of a novel treatment regimen for muscular dystrophy and other diseases caused by premature stop codon mutations. This treatment could prove effective in up to 15% of patients with DMD.
J. Clin. Invest. 104:375–381 (1999).
Myostatin is a negative regulator of skeletal muscle mass whose activity is upregulated in adult heart failure (HF); however, its role in congenital heart disease (CHD) is unknown.
We studied myostatin and IGF-1 expression via Western blot in cardiac tissue at varying degrees of myocardial dysfunction and after biventricular support in CHD by collecting myocardial biopsies from four patient cohorts: A) adult subjects with no known cardiopulmonary disease (left ventricle, LV), (Adult Normal), (n = 5); B) pediatric subjects undergoing congenital cardiac surgery with normal RV size and function (right ventricular outflow tract, RVOT), (n = 3); C) pediatric subjects with worsening but hemodynamically stable LV failure [LV and right ventricle (LV, RV,)] with biopsy collected at the time of orthotopic heart transplant (OHT), (n = 7); and D) pediatric subjects with decompensated bi-ventricular failure on BiVAD support with biopsy collected at OHT (LV, RV, BiVAD), (n = 3).
The duration of HF was longest in OHT patients compared to BIVAD. The duration of BiVAD support was 4.3±1.9 days. Myostatin expression was significantly increased in LV-OHT compared to RV-OHT and RVOT, and was increased more than double in decompensated biventricular HF (BiVAD) compared to both OHT and RVOT. An increased myostatin/IGF-1 ratio was associated with ventricular dysfunction.
Myostatin expression in increased in CHD, and the myostatin/IGF-1 ratio increases as ventricular function deteriorates. Future investigation is necessary to determine if restoration of the physiologic myostatin/IGF-1 ratio has therapeutic potential in HF.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a degenerative disorder affecting skeletal and cardiac muscle for which there is no effective therapy. Angiotension receptor blockade (ARB) has excellent therapeutic potential in DMD based on recent data demonstrating attenuation of skeletal muscle disease progression during 6–9 months of therapy in the mdx mouse model of DMD. Since cardiac-related death is major cause of mortality in DMD, it is important to evaluate the effect of any novel treatment on the heart. Therefore, we evaluated the long-term impact of ARB on both the skeletal muscle and cardiac phenotype of the mdx mouse. Mdx mice received either losartan (0.6 g/L) (n = 8) or standard drinking water (n = 9) for two years, after which echocardiography was performed to assess cardiac function. Skeletal muscle weight, morphology, and function were assessed. Fibrosis was evaluated in the diaphragm and heart by Trichrome stain and by determination of tissue hydroxyproline content. By the study endpoint, 88% of treated mice were alive compared to only 44% of untreated (p = 0.05). No difference in skeletal muscle morphology, function, or fibrosis was noted in losartan-treated animals. Cardiac function was significantly preserved with losartan treatment, with a trend towards reduction in cardiac fibrosis. We saw no impact on the skeletal muscle disease progression, suggesting that other pathways that trigger fibrosis dominate over angiotensin II in skeletal muscle long term, unlike the situation in the heart. Our study suggests that ARB may be an important prophylactic treatment for DMD-associated cardiomyopathy, but will not impact skeletal muscle disease.
The physical nature of a cell’s microenvironment – including the elasticity of the surrounding tissue – appears to exert a significant influence on cell morphology, cytoskeleton, and gene expression. We have previously shown that committed muscle cells will develop sarcomeric striations of skeletal muscle myosin II only when the cells are grown on a compliant gel that closely matches the passive compliance of skeletal muscle. We have more recently shown with the same types of elastic gels that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) maximally express myogenic genes, even in the absence of tailored soluble factors. Here, we provide detailed methods not only for how we make and nanomechanically characterize hydrogels of muscle-like elasticity, but also how we culture MSCs and characterize their myogenic induction by whole human genome transcript analysis.
Mesenchymal stem cells; Myogenesis; Elasticity; Microenvironment; MyoD
Myosin VI challenges the prevailing theory of how myosin motors move on actin: the lever arm hypothesis. While the reverse directionality and large powerstroke of myosin VI can be attributed to unusual properties of a subdomain of the motor (converter with a unique insert), these adaptations cannot account for the large step size on actin. Either the lever arm hypothesis needs modification, or myosin VI has some unique form of extension of its lever arm. We determined the structure of the region immediately distal to the lever arm of the motor and show that it is a 3-helix bundle. Based on C-terminal truncations that display the normal range of step sizes on actin, CD, fluorescence studies, and a partial deletion of the bundle, we demonstrate that this bundle unfolds upon dimerization of two myosin VI monomers. This unprecedented mechanism generates an extension of the lever arm of myosin VI.
unconventional myosin; motility; converter; lever arm; single stable α-helix
Myostatin is well established as a negative regulator of skeletal muscle growth, but its role in the heart is controversial. Our goal in this study was to characterize myostatin regulation following cardiomyocyte stress and to examine the role of myostatin in the regulation of cardiomyocyte size. Neonatal cardiomyocytes were cultured and stressed with phenylephrine. Adenovirus was used to overexpress myostatin or dominant negative myostatin in culture. Adeno-associated virus was used to overexpress myostatin or dominant negative myostatin in mice. Myostatin is upregulated following cardiomyocyte stress in an Erk-dependent manner that is associated with increased nuclear translocation and DNA binding activity of MEF-2. Myostatin overexpression leads to decreased and myostatin inhibition to increased cardiac growth both in vitro and in vivo due to modulation of Akt and NFAT3 pathways. Myostatin is a negative regulator of cardiac growth, and further studies are warranted to investigate the role of myostatin in the healthy and failing heart.
Myostatin inhibition is a promising therapeutic strategy to maintain muscle mass in a variety of disorders, including the muscular dystrophies, cachexia, and sarcopenia. Previously described approaches to blocking myostatin signaling include injection delivery of inhibitory propeptide domain or neutralizing antibodies.
Here we describe a unique method of myostatin inhibition utilizing recombinant adeno-associated virus to overexpress a secretable dominant negative myostatin exclusively in the liver of mice. Systemic myostatin inhibition led to increased skeletal muscle mass and strength in control C57 Bl/6 mice and in the dystrophin-deficient mdx model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The mdx soleus, a mouse muscle more representative of human fiber type composition, demonstrated the most profound improvement in force production and a shift toward faster myosin-heavy chain isoforms. Unexpectedly, the 11-month-old mdx diaphragm was not rescued by long-term myostatin inhibition. Further, mdx mice treated for 11 months exhibited cardiac hypertrophy and impaired function in an inhibitor dose–dependent manner.
Liver-targeted gene transfer of a myostatin inhibitor is a valuable tool for preclinical investigation of myostatin blockade and provides novel insights into the long-term effects and shortcomings of myostatin inhibition on striated muscle.
Heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Cardiac gene transfer may serve as a novel therapeutic approach. This investigation was undertaken to compare cardiac tropisms of adeno-associated virus (AAV) serotypes 1, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Neonatal mice were injected with 2.5 × 1011 genome copies (GC) of AAV serotype 1, 6, 7, 8, or 9 expressing LacZ under the control of the constitutive chicken β-actin promoter with cytomegalovirus enhancer promoter via intrapericardial injection and monitored for up to 1 year. Adult rats were injected with 5 × 1011 GC of the AAV vectors via direct cardiac injection and monitored for 1 month. Cardiac distribution of LacZ expression was assessed by X-Gal histochemistry, and β-galactosidase activity was quantified in a chemiluminescence assay. Cardiac functional data and biodistribution data were also collected in the rat. AAV9 provided global cardiac gene transfer stable for up to 1 year that was superior to other serotypes. LacZ expression was relatively cardiac specific, and cardiac function was unaffected by gene transfer. AAV9 provides high-level, stable expression in the mouse and rat heart and may provide a simple alternative to the creation of cardiac-specific transgenic mice. AAV9 should be used in rodent cardiac studies and may be the vector of choice for clinical trials of cardiac gene transfer.
We have solved a 2.4Å structure of a truncated version of the reverse direction myosin motor, myosin VI, that contains the motor domain and binding sites for two calmodulins. The structure reveals only minor differences in the motor domain as compared to plus-end directed myosins, with the exception of two unique inserts. The first insert is near the nucleotide-binding pocket, and alters the rates of nucleotide association and dissociation. The second unique insert forms an integral part of the myosin VI converter domain along with a calmodulin bound to a previously unseen binding motif within the insert. This serves to redirect the effective “lever arm” of myosin VI, which includes a second calmodulin bound to an “IQ motif,” towards the pointed (−) end of the actin filament. This repositioning largely accounts for the reverse directionality of this class of myosin motors. We propose a model incorporating a kinesin-like uncoupling/docking mechanism to fully explain the movements of myosin VI.
Muscular dystrophies comprise a diverse group of genetic disorders that lead to muscle wasting and, in many instances, premature death1. Many mutations that cause muscular dystrophy compromise the support network that connects myofilament proteins within the cell to the basal lamina outside the cell, rendering the sarcolemma more permeable or leaky. Here we show that deletion of the gene encoding cyclophilin D (Ppif) rendered mitochondria largely insensitive to the calcium overload–induced swelling associated with a defective sarcolemma, thus reducing myofiber necrosis in two distinct models of muscular dystrophy. Mice lacking δ-sarcoglycan (Scgd−/− mice) showed markedly less dystrophic disease in both skeletal muscle and heart in the absence of Ppif. Moreover, the premature lethality associated with deletion of Lama2, encoding the α-2 chain of laminin-2, was rescued, as were other indices of dystrophic disease. Treatment with the cyclophilin inhibitor Debio-025 similarly reduced mitochondrial swelling and necrotic disease manifestations in mdx mice, a model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and in Scgd−/− mice. Thus, mitochondrial-dependent necrosis represents a prominent disease mechanism in muscular dystrophy, suggesting that inhibition of cyclophilin D could provide a new pharmacologic treatment strategy for these diseases.
Calcineurin (Cn) is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent serine/threonine phosphatase that regulates differentiation-specific gene expression in diverse tissues, including the control of fiber-type switching in skeletal muscle. Recent studies have implicated Cn signaling in diminishing skeletal muscle pathogenesis associated with muscle injury or disease-related muscle degeneration. For example, use of the Cn inhibitor cyclosporine A has been shown to delay muscle regeneration following toxin-induced injury and inhibit regeneration in the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In contrast, transgenic expression of an activated mutant of Cn in skeletal muscle was shown to increase utrophin expression and reduce overall disease pathology in mdx mice. Here we examine the effect of altered Cn activation in the context of the δ-sarcoglycan-null (scgd−/−) mouse model of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. In contrast to results discussed in mdx mice, genetic deletion of a loxP-targeted calcineurin B1 (CnB1) gene using a skeletal muscle-specific cre allele in the scgd−/− background substantially reduced skeletal muscle degeneration and histopathology compared with the scgd−/− genotype alone. A similar regression in scgd-dependent disease manifestation was also observed in calcineurin Aβ (CnAβ) gene-targeted mice in both skeletal muscle and heart. Conversely, increased Cn expression using a muscle-specific transgene increased cardiac fibrosis, decreased cardiac ventricular shortening, and increased muscle fiber loss in the quadriceps. Our results suggest that inhibition of Cn may benefit select types of muscular dystrophy.
It is 50 years since the sliding of actin and myosin filaments was proposed as the basis of force generation and shortening in striated muscle. Although this is now generally accepted, the detailed molecular mechanism of how myosin uses adenosine triphosphate to generate force during its cyclic interaction with actin is only now being unravelled. New insights have come from the unconventional myosins, especially myosin V. Myosin V is kinetically tuned to allow movement on actin filaments as a single molecule, which has led to new kinetic, mechanical and structural data that have filled in missing pieces of the actomyosin-chemo-mechanical transduction puzzle.