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1.  Rapamycin treatment of Mandibuloacral Dysplasia cells rescues localization of chromatin-associated proteins and cell cycle dynamics 
Aging (Albany NY)  2014;6(9):755-769.
Lamin A is a key component of the nuclear lamina produced through post-translational processing of its precursor known as prelamin A. LMNA mutations leading to farnesylated prelamin A accumulation are known to cause lipodystrophy, progeroid and developmental diseases, including Mandibuloacral dysplasia, a mild progeroid syndrome with partial lipodystrophy and altered bone turnover. Thus, degradation of prelamin A is expected to improve the disease phenotype. Here, we show different susceptibilities of prelamin A forms to proteolysis and further demonstrate that treatment with rapamycin efficiently and selectively triggers lysosomal degradation of farnesylated prelamin A, the most toxic processing intermediate. Importantly, rapamycin treatment of Mandibuloacral dysplasia cells, which feature very low levels of the NAD-dependent sirtuin SIRT-1 in the nuclear matrix, restores SIRT-1 localization and distribution of chromatin markers, elicits release of the transcription factor Oct-1 and determines shortening of the prolonged S-phase. These findings indicate the drug as a possible treatment for Mandibuloacral dysplasia.
PMCID: PMC4233654  PMID: 25324471
Mandibuloacral Dysplasia (MADA); Prelamin A; SIRT-1; Oct-1; Rapamycin
2.  Ultrastructural changes in muscle cells of patients with collagen VI-related myopathies 
Collagen VI is an extracellular matrix protein expressed in several tissues including skeletal muscle. Mutations in COL6A genes cause Bethlem Myopathy (BM), Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (UCMD) and Myosclerosis Myopathy (MM). Collagen VI deficiency causes increased opening of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), leading to ultrastructural and functional alterations of mitochondria, amplified by impairment of autophagy. Here we report for the first time ultrastructural studies on muscle biopsies from BM and UCMD patients, showing swollen mitochondria with hypodense matrix, disorganized cristae and paracrystalline inclusions, associated with dilated sarcoplasmic reticulum and apoptotic changes. These data were supported by scanning electron microscopy analysis on BM and UCMD cultured cells, showing alterations of the mitochondrial network. Morphometric analysis also revealed a reduced short axis and depicted swelling in about 3% of mitochondria. These data demonstrate that mitochondrial defects underlie the pathogenetic mechanism in muscle tissue of patients affected by collagen VI myopathies.
PMCID: PMC3940501  PMID: 24596691
collagen VI; mitochondria; mPTP; scanning electron microscopy back-scattered imaging; transmission electron microscopy
3.  Antisense-Induced Messenger Depletion Corrects a COL6A2 Dominant Mutation in Ullrich Myopathy 
Human Gene Therapy  2012;23(12):1313-1318.
Collagen VI gene mutations cause Ullrich and Bethlem muscular dystrophies. Pathogenic mutations frequently have a dominant negative effect, with defects in collagen VI chain secretion and assembly. It is agreed that, conversely, collagen VI haploinsufficiency has no pathological consequences. Thus, RNA-targeting approaches aimed at preferentially inactivating the mutated COL6 messenger may represent a promising therapeutic strategy. By in vitro studies we obtained the preferential depletion of the mutated COL6A2 messenger, by targeting a common single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), cistronic with a dominant COL6A2 mutation. We used a 2′-O-methyl phosphorothioate (2′OMePS) antisense oligonucleotide covering the SNP within exon 3, which is out of frame. Exon 3 skipping has the effect of depleting the mutated transcript via RNA nonsense-mediated decay, recovering the correct collagen VI secretion and restoring the ability to form an interconnected microfilament network into the extracellular matrix. This novel RNA modulation approach to correcting dominant mutations may represent a therapeutic strategy potentially applicable to a great variety of mutations and diseases.
Gualandi and colleagues deplete defective mRNA transcripts of the gene encoding one of the collagen VI α chains (COL6A2) by using an antisense oligonucleotide covering a single-nucleotide polymorphism to achieve skipping of COL6A2 exon 3. Exon 3 skipping was confirmed and resulted in reduced expression of the mutated transcript via RNA nonsense-mediated decay. Histology and electron microscopy studies showed recovery of functional secretion of collagen VI as well as integration of collagen VI into the extracellular matrix.
PMCID: PMC3523246  PMID: 22992134
4.  Familial partial lipodystrophy, mandibuloacral dysplasia and restrictive dermopathy feature barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF) nuclear redistribution 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(19):3568-3577.
Prelamin A processing impairment is a common feature of a restricted group of rare genetic alterations/disorders associated with a wide range of clinical phenotypes. Changes in histone posttranslational modifications, alterations in non-histone chromatin proteins and chromatin disorganization have been specifically linked to impairment of specific, distinct prelamin A processing steps, but the molecular mechanism involved in these processes is not yet understood . In this study, we show that the accumulation of wild-type prelamin A detected in restrictive dermopathy (RD), as well as the accumulation of mutated forms of prelamin A identified in familial partial lipodystrophy (FPLD) and mandibuloacral dysplasia (MADA), affect the nuclear localization of barrier-to-autointegration factor (BAF), a protein able to link lamin A precursor to chromatin remodeling functions. Our findings, in accordance with previously described results, support the hypothesis of a prelamin A involvement in BAF nuclear recruitment and suggest BAF-prelamin A complex as a protein platform usually activated in prelamin A-accumulating diseases. Finally, we demonstrate the involvement of the inner nuclear membrane protein emerin in the proper localization of BAF-prelamin A complex.
PMCID: PMC3478308  PMID: 22935701
BAF; BANF1; prelamin A; lamin A/C; laminopathies; emerin; EDMD1
5.  Altered chromatin organization and SUN2 localization in mandibuloacral dysplasia are rescued by drug treatment 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2012;138(4):643-651.
Mandibuloacral dysplasia type A (MADA) is a rare laminopathy characterized by growth retardation, craniofacial anomalies, bone resorption at specific sites including clavicles, phalanges and mandibula, mottled cutaneous pigmentation, skin rigidity, partial lipodystrophy, and insulin resistance. The disorder is caused by recessive mutations of the LMNA gene encoding for A-type lamins. The molecular feature of MADA consists in the accumulation of the unprocessed lamin A precursor, which is detected at the nuclear rim and in intranuclear aggregates. Here, we report the characterization of prelamin A post-translational modifications in MADA cells that induce alterations in the chromatin arrangement and dislocation of nuclear envelope-associated proteins involved in correct nucleo-cytoskeleton relationships. We show that protein post-translational modifications change depending on the passage number, suggesting the onset of a feedback mechanism. Moreover, we show that treatment of MADA cells with the farnesyltransferase inhibitors is effective in the recovery of the chromatin phenotype, altered in MADA, provided that the cells are at low passage number, while at high passage number, the treatment results ineffective. Moreover, the distribution of the lamin A interaction partner SUN2, a constituent of the nuclear envelope, is altered by MADA mutations, as argued by the formation of a highly disorganized lattice. Treatment with statins partially rescues proper SUN2 organization, indicating that its alteration is caused by farnesylated prelamin A accumulation. Given the major role of SUN1 and SUN2 in the nucleo-cytoskeleton interactions and in regulation of nuclear positioning in differentiating cells, we hypothesise that mechanisms regulating nuclear membrane–centrosome interplay and nuclear movement may be affected in MADA fibroblasts.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00418-012-0977-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3432780  PMID: 22706480
Mandibuloacral dysplasia type A (MADA); Prelamin A forms; SUN2; Heterochromatin defects; Statins; Trichostatin A
6.  The empowerment of translational research: lessons from laminopathies 
The need for a collaborative approach to complex inherited diseases collectively referred to as laminopathies, encouraged Italian researchers, geneticists, physicians and patients to join in the Italian Network for Laminopathies, in 2009. Here, we highlight the advantages and added value of such a multidisciplinary effort to understand pathogenesis, clinical aspects and try to find a cure for Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Mandibuloacral dysplasia, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria and forms of lamin-linked cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and lipodystrophy.
PMCID: PMC3458975  PMID: 22691392
Laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy; Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Conduction Defects; Mandibuloacral Dysplasia; Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2; Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; Rare Diseases; Networking activity; interdisciplinary approach to diseases
7.  Expression of collagen VI α5 and α6 chains in human muscle and in Duchenne muscular dystrophy-related muscle fibrosis 
Matrix Biology  2012;31(3):187-196.
Collagen VI is a major extracellular matrix (ECM) protein with a critical role in maintaining skeletal muscle functional integrity. Mutations in COL6A1, COL6A2 and COL6A3 genes cause Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (UCMD), Bethlem Myopathy, and Myosclerosis. Moreover, Col6a1−/− mice and collagen VI deficient zebrafish display a myopathic phenotype. Recently, two additional collagen VI chains were identified in humans, the α5 and α6 chains, however their distribution patterns and functions in human skeletal muscle have not been thoroughly investigated yet. By means of immunofluorescence analysis, the α6 chain was detected in the endomysium and perimysium, while the α5 chain labeling was restricted to the myotendinous junctions. In normal muscle cultures, the α6 chain was present in traces in the ECM, while the α5 chain was not detected. In the absence of ascorbic acid, the α6 chain was mainly accumulated into the cytoplasm of a sub-set of desmin negative cells, likely of interstitial origin, which can be considered myofibroblasts as they expressed α-smooth muscle actin. TGF-β1 treatment, a pro-fibrotic factor which induces trans-differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, increased the α6 chain deposition in the extracellular matrix after addition of ascorbic acid. In order to define the involvement of the α6 chain in muscle fibrosis we studied biopsies of patients affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). We found that the α6 chain was dramatically up-regulated in fibrotic areas where, in contrast, the α5 chain was undetectable. Our results show a restricted and differential distribution of the novel α6 and α5 chains in skeletal muscle when compared to the widely distributed, homologous α3 chain, suggesting that these new chains may play specific roles in specialized ECM structures. While the α5 chain may have a specialized function in tissue areas subjected to tensile stress, the α6 chain appears implicated in ECM remodeling during muscle fibrosis.
► We study collagen VI alpha 5 and alpha 6 chains expression in human skeletal muscle. ► ► We show that alpha 5 chain is exclusively present at the myotendinous junctions. ► We show that alpha 6 chain is present in the ECM but not at the basement membranes. ► We show that alpha 6 chain increases in Duchenne muscular dystrophy muscle fibrosis. ► We hypothesize the possible formation of alpha1-2-6 or alpha1-2-5 chains trimers.
PMCID: PMC3315014  PMID: 22226732
Collagen VI; Skeletal muscle; Myotendinous junctions; Fibrosis; Duchenne muscular dystrophy
8.  Prelamin A mediated recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope directs nuclear positioning in human muscle 
Cell death and differentiation  2011;18(8):1305-1315.
Lamin A is a nuclear lamina constituent expressed in differentiated cells. Mutations in the LMNA gene cause several diseases, including muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy. Among nuclear envelope partners of lamin A are SUN1 and SUN2, which mediate nucleo-cytoskeleton interactions critical to the anchorage of nuclei. In this study, we show that differentiating human myoblasts accumulate farnesylated prelamin A, which elicits upregulation and recruitment of SUN1 to the nuclear envelope and favors SUN2 enrichment at the nuclear poles. Indeed, impairment of prelamin A farnesylation alters SUN1 recruitment and SUN2 localization. Moreover, nuclear positioning in myotubes is severely affected in the absence of farnesylated prelamin A. Importantly, reduced prelamin A and SUN1 levels are observed in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy myoblasts, concomitant with altered myonuclear positioning. These results demonstrate that the interplay between SUN1 and farnesylated prelamin A contributes to nuclear positioning in human myofibers and may be implicated in pathogenetic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3097169  PMID: 21311568
9.  Prelamin A processing and functional effects in restrictive dermopathy 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(23):4766-4768.
PMCID: PMC3048041  PMID: 21127399
restrictive dermopathy; prelamin A; chromatin; nuclear envelope; ZMPSTE24; laminopathies

Results 1-9 (9)