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1.  The Popeye Domain Containing Genes and their Function in Striated Muscle 
The Popeye domain containing (POPDC) genes encode a novel class of cAMP effector proteins, which are abundantly expressed in heart and skeletal muscle. Here we will review their role in striated muscle as deduced from work in cell and animal models and the recent analysis of patients carrying a missense mutation in POPDC1. Evidence suggests that POPDC proteins control membrane trafficking of interacting proteins. Furthermore, we will discuss the current catalogue of established protein-protein interactions. In recent years, the number of POPDC-interacting proteins is rising and currently includes ion channels (TREK-1), sarcolemma-associated proteins serving functions in mechanical stability (Dystrophin), compartmentalization (Caveolin 3), scaffolding (ZO-1), trafficking (NDRG4, VAMP2/3) and repair (Dysferlin), or acting as a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rho-family GTPases (GEFT). Recent evidence suggests that POPDC proteins might also control the cellular level of the nuclear proto-oncoprotein c-Myc. These data suggests that this family of cAMP-binding proteins probably serves multiple roles in striated muscle.
doi:10.3390/jcdd3020022
PMCID: PMC4918794  PMID: 27347491
atrioventricular block; cyclic AMP; cardiac arrhythmia; membrane trafficking; membrane protein; limb-girdle muscular dystrophy; sinus bradycardia
2.  POPDC1S201F causes muscular dystrophy and arrhythmia by affecting protein trafficking 
The Popeye domain–containing 1 (POPDC1) gene encodes a plasma membrane–localized cAMP-binding protein that is abundantly expressed in striated muscle. In animal models, POPDC1 is an essential regulator of structure and function of cardiac and skeletal muscle; however, POPDC1 mutations have not been associated with human cardiac and muscular diseases. Here, we have described a homozygous missense variant (c.602C>T, p.S201F) in POPDC1, identified by whole-exome sequencing, in a family of 4 with cardiac arrhythmia and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD). This allele was absent in known databases and segregated with the pathological phenotype in this family. We did not find the allele in a further screen of 104 patients with a similar phenotype, suggesting this mutation to be family specific. Compared with WT protein, POPDC1S201F displayed a 50% reduction in cAMP affinity, and in skeletal muscle from patients, both POPDC1S201F and WT POPDC2 displayed impaired membrane trafficking. Forced expression of POPDC1S201F in a murine cardiac muscle cell line (HL-1) increased hyperpolarization and upstroke velocity of the action potential. In zebrafish, expression of the homologous mutation (popdc1S191F) caused heart and skeletal muscle phenotypes that resembled those observed in patients. Our study therefore identifies POPDC1 as a disease gene causing a very rare autosomal recessive cardiac arrhythmia and LGMD, expanding the genetic causes of this heterogeneous group of inherited rare diseases.
doi:10.1172/JCI79562
PMCID: PMC4701561  PMID: 26642364
3.  Validation of genetic modifiers for Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a multicentre study assessing SPP1 and LTBP4 variants 
Objective
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterised by progressive muscle weakness. It has recently been reported that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located in the SPP1 and LTBP4 loci can account for some of the inter-individual variability observed in the clinical disease course. The validation of genetic association in large independent cohorts is a key process for rare diseases in order to qualify prognostic biomarkers and stratify patients in clinical trials.
Methods
Duchenne patients from five European neuromuscular centres were included. Information about age at wheelchair dependence and steroid use was gathered. Melting curve analysis of PCR fragments or Sanger sequencing were used to genotype SNP rs28357094 in the SPP1 gene in 336 patients. The genotype of SNPs rs2303729, rs1131620, rs1051303 and rs10880 in the LTBP4 locus was determined in 265 patients by mass spectrometry. For both loci, a multivariate analysis was performed, using genotype/haplotype, steroid use and cohort as covariates.
Results
We show that corticosteroid treatment and the IAAM haplotype of the LTBP4 gene are significantly associated with prolonged ambulation in patients with DMD. There was no significant association between the SNP rs28357094 in the SPP1 gene and the age of ambulation loss.
Conclusions
This study underlines the importance of replicating genetic association studies for rare diseases in large independent cohorts to identify the most robust associations. We anticipate that genotyping of validated genetic associations will become important for the design and interpretation of clinical trials.
doi:10.1136/jnnp-2014-308409
PMCID: PMC4602257  PMID: 25476005
MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY; MUSCLE DISEASE; GENETICS; DYSTROPHIN; NEUROMUSCULAR
4.  The DMD Locus Harbours Multiple Long Non-Coding RNAs Which Orchestrate and Control Transcription of Muscle Dystrophin mRNA Isoforms 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45328.
The 2.2 Mb long dystrophin (DMD) gene, the largest gene in the human genome, corresponds to roughly 0.1% of the entire human DNA sequence. Mutations in this gene cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other milder X-linked, recessive dystrophinopathies. Using a custom-made tiling array, specifically designed for the DMD locus, we identified a variety of novel long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), both sense and antisense oriented, whose expression profiles mirror that of DMD gene. Importantly, these transcripts are intronic in origin and specifically localized to the nucleus and are transcribed contextually with dystrophin isoforms or primed by MyoD-induced myogenic differentiation. Furthermore, their forced ectopic expression in both human muscle and neuronal cells causes a specific and negative regulation of endogenous dystrophin full length isoforms and significantly down-regulate the activity of a luciferase reporter construct carrying the minimal promoter regions of the muscle dystrophin isoform. Consistent with this apparently repressive role, we found that, in muscle samples of dystrophinopathic female carriers, lncRNAs expression levels inversely correlate with those of muscle full length DMD isoforms. Overall these findings unveil an unprecedented complexity of the transcriptional pattern of the DMD locus and reveal that DMD lncRNAs may contribute to the orchestration and homeostasis of the muscle dystrophin expression pattern by either selective targeting and down-modulating the dystrophin promoter transcriptional activity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045328
PMCID: PMC3448672  PMID: 23028937
5.  Genetic characterization in symptomatic female DMD carriers: lack of relationship between X-inactivation, transcriptional DMD allele balancing and phenotype 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:73.
Background
Although Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, X-linked recessive myopathies, predominantly affect males, a clinically significant proportion of females manifesting symptoms have also been reported. They represent an heterogeneous group characterized by variable degrees of muscle weakness and/or cardiac involvement. Though preferential inactivation of the normal X chromosome has long been considered the principal mechanism behind disease manifestation in these females, supporting evidence is controversial.
Methods
Eighteen females showing a mosaic pattern of dystrophin expression on muscle biopsy were recruited and classified as symptomatic (7) or asymptomatic (11), based on the presence or absence of muscle weakness. The causative DMD gene mutations were identified in all cases, and the X-inactivation pattern was assessed in muscle DNA. Transcriptional analysis in muscles was performed in all females, and relative quantification of wild-type and mutated transcripts was also performed in 9 carriers. Dystrophin protein was quantified by immunoblotting in 2 females.
Results
The study highlighted a lack of relationship between dystrophic phenotype and X-inactivation pattern in females; skewed X-inactivation was found in 2 out of 6 symptomatic carriers and in 5 out of 11 asymptomatic carriers. All females were characterized by biallelic transcription, but no association was found between X-inactivation pattern and allele transcriptional balancing. Either a prevalence of wild-type transcript or equal proportions of wild-type and mutated RNAs was observed in both symptomatic and asymptomatic females. Moreover, very similar levels of total and wild-type transcripts were identified in the two groups of carriers.
Conclusions
This is the first study deeply exploring the DMD transcriptional behaviour in a cohort of female carriers. Notably, no relationship between X-inactivation pattern and transcriptional behaviour of DMD gene was observed, suggesting that the two mechanisms are regulated independently. Moreover, neither the total DMD transcript level, nor the relative proportion of the wild-type transcript do correlate with the symptomatic phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-73
PMCID: PMC3459813  PMID: 22894145
Dystrophinopathy; Female carriers; X-inactivation; Transcriptional balancing

Results 1-5 (5)