Abstract: Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multi-system disorder characterized by muscle wasting, myotonia, cardiac conduction defects, cataracts, and neuropsychological dysfunction. DM1 is caused by expansion of a CTG repeat in the 3´untranslated region (UTR) of the Dystrophia Myotonica Protein Kinase (DMPK) gene. A body of work demonstrates that DMPK mRNAs containing abnormally expanded CUG repeats are toxic to several cell types. A core mechanism underlying symptoms of DM1 is that mutant DMPK RNA interferes with the developmentally regulated alternative splicing of defined pre-mRNAs. Expanded CUG repeats fold into ds(CUG) hairpins that sequester nuclear proteins including human Muscleblind-like (MBNL) and hnRNP H alternative splicing factors. DM1 cells activate CELF family member CUG-BP1 protein through hyperphosphorylation and stabilization in the cell nucleus. CUG-BP1 and MBNL1 proteins act antagonistically in exon selection in several pre-mRNA transcripts, thus MBNL1 sequestration and increase in nuclear activity of CUG-BP1 both act synergistically to missplice defined transcripts. Mutant DMPK-mediated effect on subcellular localization, and defective phosphorylation of cytoplasmic CUG-BP1, have additionally been linked to defective translation of p21 and MEF2A in DM1, possibly explaining delayed differentiation of DM1 muscle cells. Mutant DMPK transcripts bind and sequester transcription factors such as Specificity protein 1 leading to reduced transcription of selected genes. Recently, transcripts containing long hairpin structures of CUG repeats have been shown to be a Dicer ribonuclease target and Dicer-induced downregulation of the mutant DMPK transcripts triggers silencing effects on RNA
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