66 research outputs found

    Investigating synthetic oligonucleotide targeting of miR31 in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

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    Exon-skipping via synthetic antisense oligonucleotides represents one of the most promising potential therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), yet this approach is highly sequence-specific and thus each oligonucleotide is of benefit to only a subset of patients. The discovery that dystrophin mRNA is subject to translational suppression by the microRNA miR31, and that miR31 is elevated in the muscle of DMD patients, raises the possibility that the same oligonucleotide chemistries employed for exon skipping could be directed toward relieving this translational block. This approach would act synergistically with exon skipping where possible, but by targeting the 3’UTR it would further be of benefit to the many DMD patients who express low levels of in-frame transcript. We here present investigations into the feasibility of combining exon skipping with several different strategies for miR31-modulation, using both in vitro models and the mdx mouse (the classical animal model of DMD), and monitoring effects on dystrophin at the transcriptional and translational level. We show that despite promising results from our cell culture model, our in vivo data failed to demonstrate similarly reproducible enhancement of dystrophin translation, suggesting that miR31-modulation may not be practical under current oligonucleotide approaches. Possible explanations for this disappointing outcome are discussed, along with suggestions for future investigations

    Identification of qPCR reference genes suitable for normalizing gene expression in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

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    The mdx mouse is the most widely-used animal model of the human disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and quantitative PCR analysis of gene expression in the muscles of this animal plays a key role in the study of pathogenesis and disease progression and in evaluation of potential therapeutic interventions. Normalization to appropriate stably-expressed reference genes is essential for accurate quantitative measurement, but determination of such genes is challenging: healthy and dystrophic muscles present very different transcriptional environments, further altering with disease progression and muscle use, raising the possibility that no single gene or combination of genes may be stable under all experimental comparative scenarios. Despite the pedigree of this animal model, this problem remains unaddressed. The aim of this work was therefore to comprehensively assess reference gene suitability in the muscles of healthy and dystrophic mice, identifying reference genes appropriate for specific experimental comparisons, and determining whether an essentially universally-applicable set of genes exists. Using a large sample collection comprising multiple muscles (including the tibialis anterior, diaphragm and heart muscles) taken from healthy and mdx mice at three disease-relevant ages, and a panel of sixteen candidate reference genes (FBXO38, FBXW2, MON2, ZFP91, HTATSF1, GAPDH, ACTB, 18S, CDC40, SDHA, RPL13a, CSNK2A2, AP3D1, PAK1IP1, B2M and HPRT1), we used the geNorm, BestKeeper and Normfinder algorithms to identify genes that were stable under multiple possible comparative scenarios. We reveal that no single gene is stable under all conditions, but a normalization factor derived from multiple genes (RPL13a, CSNK2A2, AP3D1 and the widely-used ACTB) appears suitable for normalizing gene expression in both healthy and dystrophic mouse muscle regardless of muscle type or animal age. We further show that other popular reference genes, including GAPDH, are markedly disease- or muscle-type correlated. This study demonstrates the importance of empirical reference gene identification, and should serve as a valuable resource for investigators wishing to study gene expression in mdx mice

    How much dystrophin is enough: the physiological consequences of different levels of dystrophin in the mdx mouse

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    Splice modulation therapy has shown great clinical promise in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, resulting in the production of dystrophin protein. Despite this, the relationship between restoring dystrophin to established dystrophic muscle and its ability to induce clinically relevant changes in muscle function is poorly understood. In order to robustly evaluate functional improvement, we used in situ protocols in the mdx mouse to measure muscle strength and resistance to eccentric contraction-induced damage. Here, we modelled the treatment of muscle with pre-existing dystrophic pathology using antisense oligonucleotides conjugated to a cell-penetrating peptide. We reveal that 15% homogeneous dystrophin expression is sufficient to protect against eccentric contraction-induced injury. In addition, we demonstrate a >40% increase in specific isometric force following repeated administrations. Strikingly, we show that changes in muscle strength are proportional to dystrophin expression levels. These data define the dystrophin restoration levels required to slow down or prevent disease progression and improve overall muscle function once a dystrophic environment has been established in the mdx mouse model

    Gene editing restores dystrophin expression in a canine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

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    Mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, a protein that maintains muscle integrity and function, cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The deltaE50-MD dog model of DMD harbors a mutation corresponding to a mutational “hotspot” in the human DMD gene. We used adeno-associated viruses to deliver CRISPR gene editing components to four dogs and examined dystrophin protein expression 6 weeks after intramuscular delivery (n = 2) or 8 weeks after systemic delivery (n = 2). After systemic delivery in skeletal muscle, dystrophin was restored to levels ranging from 3 to 90% of normal, depending on muscle type. In cardiac muscle, dystrophin levels in the dog receiving the highest dose reached 92% of normal. The treated dogs also showed improved muscle histology. These large-animal data support the concept that, with further development, gene editing approaches may prove clinically useful for the treatment of DMD

    Multiplex in situ hybridization within a single transcript: RNAscope reveals dystrophin mRNA dynamics

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    Dystrophin plays a vital role in maintaining muscle health, yet low mRNA expression, lengthy transcription time and the limitations of traditional in-situ hybridization (ISH) methodologies mean that the dynamics of dystrophin transcription remain poorly understood. RNAscope is highly sensitive ISH method that can be multiplexed, allowing detection of individual transcript molecules at sub-cellular resolution, with different target mRNAs assigned to distinct fluorophores. We instead multiplex within a single transcript, using probes targeted to the 5’ and 3’ regions of muscle dystrophin mRNA. Our approach shows this method can reveal transcriptional dynamics in health and disease, resolving both nascent myonuclear transcripts and exported mature mRNAs in quantitative fashion (with the latter absent in dystrophic muscle, yet restored following therapeutic intervention). We show that even in healthy muscle, immature dystrophin mRNA predominates (60–80% of total), with the surprising implication that the half-life of a mature transcript is markedly shorter than the time invested in transcription: at the transcript level, supply may exceed demand. Our findings provide unique spatiotemporal insight into the behaviour of this long transcript (with implications for therapeutic approaches), and further suggest this modified multiplex ISH approach is well-suited to long genes, offering a highly tractable means to reveal complex transcriptional dynamics

    Infection-related morbidity and mortality among older patients with DLBCL treated with full- or attenuated-dose R-CHOP

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    Infection-related morbidity and mortality are increased in older patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) compared with population-matched controls. Key predictive factors for infection-related hospitalization during treatment with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP) and deaths as a result of infection in older patients during and after treatment with R-CHOP remain incompletely understood. For this study, 690 consecutively treated patients age 70 years or older who received full-dose or attenuated-dose R-CHOP treatment were analyzed for risk of infection-related hospitalization and infection-related death. Median age was 77 years, and 34.4% were 80 years old or older. Median follow-up was 2.8 years (range, 0.4-8.9 years). Patient and baseline disease characteristics were assessed in addition to intended dose intensity (IDI). Of all patients, 72% were not hospitalized with infection. In 331 patients receiving an IDI ≥80%, 33% were hospitalized with ≥1 infections compared with 23.3% of 355 patients receiving an IDI of 80% across the whole cohort. Primary quinolone prophylaxis independently reduced infection-related admission. A total of 51 patients died as a result of infection. The 6-month, 12-month, 2-year, and 5-year cumulative incidences of infection-related death were 3.3%, 5.0%, 7.2%, and 11.1%, respectively. Key independent factors associated with infection-related death were an International Prognostic Index (IPI) score of 3 to 5, Cumulative Illness Rating Scale for Geriatrics (CIRS-G) score ≥6, and low albumin, which enabled us to generate a predictive risk score. We defined a smaller group (15%) of patients (IPI score of 0-2, albumin >36 g/L, CIRS-G score <6) in which no cases of infection-related deaths occurred at 5 years of follow-up. Whether patients at higher risk of infection-related death could be targeted with enhanced antimicrobial prophylaxis remains unknown and will require a randomized trial

    Simvastatin Treatment Does Not Ameliorate Muscle Pathophysiology in a Mouse Model for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

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    Duchenne muscular dystrophy is an X-linked, recessive muscular dystrophy in which the absence of the dystrophin protein leads to fibrosis, inflammation and oxidative stress, resulting in loss of muscle tissue. Drug repurposing, i.e. using drugs already approved for other disorders, is attractive as it decreases development time. Recent studies suggested that simvastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug used for cardiovascular diseases, has beneficial effects on several parameters in mdx mice. To validate properly the effectiveness of simvastatin, two independent labs tested the effects of 12-week simvastatin treatment in either young (starting at 4 weeks of age) or adult (starting at 12 weeks of age) mdx mice. In neither study were benefits of simvastatin treatment observed on muscle function, histology or expression of genes involved in fibrosis, regeneration, oxidative stress and autophagy. Unexpectedly, although the treatment protocol was similar, simvastatin plasma levels were found be much lower than observed in a previous study. In conclusion, in two laboratories, simvastatin did not ameliorate disease pathology in mdx mice, which could either be due to the ineffectiveness of simvastatin itself or due to the low simvastatin plasma levels following oral administration via the food

    Characterisation of the pathogenic effects of the in vivo expression of an ALS-linked mutation in D-amino acid oxidase: Phenotype and loss of spinal cord motor neurons

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common adult-onset neuromuscular disorder characterised by selective loss of motor neurons leading to fatal paralysis. Current therapeutic approaches are limited in their effectiveness. Substantial advances in understanding ALS disease mechanisms has come from the identification of pathogenic mutations in dominantly inherited familial ALS (FALS). We previously reported a coding mutation in D-amino acid oxidase (DAOR199W) associated with FALS. DAO metabolises D-serine, an essential co-agonist at the N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid glutamate receptor subtype (NMDAR). Using primary motor neuron cultures or motor neuron cell lines we demonstrated that expression of DAOR199W, promoted the formation of ubiquitinated protein aggregates, activated autophagy and increased apoptosis. The aim of this study was to characterise the effects of DAOR199W in vivo, using transgenic mice overexpressing DAOR199W. Marked abnormal motor features, e.g. kyphosis, were evident in mice expressing DAOR199W, which were associated with a significant loss (19%) of lumbar spinal cord motor neurons, analysed at 14 months. When separated by gender, this effect was greater in females (26%; p< 0.0132). In addition, we crossed the DAOR199W transgenic mouse line with the SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS to determine whether the effects of SOD1G93A were potentiated in the double transgenic line (DAOR199W/SOD1G93A). Although overall survival was not affected, onset of neurological signs was significantly earlier in female double transgenic animals than their female SOD1G93A littermates (125 days vs 131 days, P = 0.0239). In summary, some significant in vivo effects of DAOR199W on motor neuron function (i.e. kyphosis and loss of motor neurons) were detected which were most marked in females and could contribute to the earlier onset of neurological signs in double transgenic females compared to SOD1G93A littermates, highlighting the importance of recognizing gender effects present in animal models of ALS

    Transgenic Rescue of the LARGEmyd Mouse: A LARGE Therapeutic Window?

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    LARGE is a glycosyltransferase involved in glycosylation of α-dystroglycan (α-DG). Absence of this protein in the LARGEmyd mouse results in α-DG hypoglycosylation, and is associated with central nervous system abnormalities and progressive muscular dystrophy. Up-regulation of LARGE has previously been proposed as a therapy for the secondary dystroglycanopathies: overexpression in cells compensates for defects in multiple dystroglycanopathy genes. Counterintuitively, LARGE overexpression in an FKRP-deficient mouse exacerbates pathology, suggesting that modulation of α-DG glycosylation requires further investigation. Here we demonstrate that transgenic expression of human LARGE (LARGE-LV5) in the LARGEmyd mouse restores α-DG glycosylation (with marked hyperglycosylation in muscle) and that this corrects both the muscle pathology and brain architecture. By quantitative analyses of LARGE transcripts we also here show that levels of transgenic and endogenous LARGE in the brains of transgenic animals are comparable, but that the transgene is markedly overexpressed in heart and particularly skeletal muscle (20–100 fold over endogenous). Our data suggest LARGE overexpression may only be deleterious under a forced regenerative context, such as that resulting from a reduction in FKRP: in the absence of such a defect we show that systemic expression of LARGE can indeed act therapeutically, and that even dramatic LARGE overexpression is well-tolerated in heart and skeletal muscle. Moreover, correction of LARGEmyd brain pathology with only moderate, near-physiological LARGE expression suggests a generous therapeutic window

    Analysis of fracture induced scattering of microseismic shear-waves

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    Fractures are pervasive features within the Earth’s crust and have a significant influence on the multi-physical response of the subsurface. The presence of coherent fracture sets often leads to observable seismic scattering enabling seismic techniques to remotely locate and characterise fracture systems. In this study, we confirm the general scale-dependence of seismic scattering and provide new results specific to shear-wave propagation. We do this by generating full waveform synthetics using finite-difference wave simulation within an isotropic background model containing explicit fractures. By considering a suite of fracture models having variable fracture density and fracture size, we examine the widening effect of wavelets due to scattering within a fractured medium by using several different approaches, such as root-mean-square envelope analysis, shear-wave polarisation distortion, differential attenuation analysis and peak frequency shifting. The analysis allows us to assess the scattering behavior of parametrised models in which the propagation direction is either normal or parallel to the fracture surfaces. The quantitative measures show strong observable deviations for fractures size on the order of or greater than the dominant seismic wavelength within the Mie and geometric scattering regime for both propagation normal and parallel to fracture strike. The results suggest that strong scattering is symptomatic of fractures having size on the same order of the probing seismic wave
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