DMD carrier model with mosaic dystrophin expression in the heart reveals complex vulnerability to myocardial injury

Tatyana A. Meyers, Jackie A. Heitzman, De Wayne Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating neuromuscular disease that causes progressive muscle wasting and cardiomyopathy. This X-linked disease results from mutations of the DMD allele on the X-chromosome resulting in the loss of expression of the protein dystrophin. Dystrophin loss causes cellular dysfunction that drives the loss of healthy skeletal muscle and cardiomyocytes. As gene therapy strategies strive toward dystrophin restoration through micro-dystrophin delivery or exon skipping, preclinical models have shown that incomplete restoration in the heart results in heterogeneous dystrophin expression throughout the myocardium. This outcome prompts the question of how much dystrophin restoration is sufficient to rescue the heart from DMD-related pathology. Female DMD carrier hearts can shed light on this question, due to their mosaic cardiac dystrophin expression resulting from random X-inactivation. In this work, a dystrophinopathy carrier mouse model was derived by breeding male or female dystrophin-null mdx mice with a wild type mate. We report that these carrier hearts are significantly susceptible to injury induced by one or multiple high doses of isoproterenol, despite expressing ~57% dystrophin. Importantly, only carrier mice with dystrophic mothers showed mortality after isoproterenol. These findings indicate that dystrophin restoration in approximately half of the heart still allows for marked vulnerability to injury. Additionally, the discovery of divergent stress-induced mortality based on parental origin in mice with equivalent dystrophin expression underscores the need for better understanding of the epigenetic, developmental, and even environmental factors that may modulate vulnerability in the dystrophic heart.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-954
Number of pages11
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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