Increased proteasome activity has been implicated in the atrophy and deterioration associated with dystrophic muscles of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). While proteasome inhibitors show promise in the attenuation of muscle degeneration, proteasome inhibition-induced toxicity was a major drawback of this therapeutic strategy. Inhibitors that selectively target the proteasome subtype that is responsible for the loss in muscle mass and quality would reduce side effects and be less toxic. This study examined proteasome activity and subtype populations, along with muscle function, morphology and damage in wild-type (WT) mice and two murine models of DMD, dystrophin-deficient (MDX) and dystrophin- and utrophin-double-knockout (DKO) mice. We found that immunoproteasome content was increased in dystrophic muscles while the total proteasome content was unchanged among the three genotypes of mice. Proteasome proteolytic activity was elevated in dystrophic muscles, especially in DKO mice. These mice also exhibited more severe muscle atrophy than either WT or MDX mice. Muscle damage and regeneration, characterized by the activity of muscle creatine kinase in the blood and the percentage of central nuclei were equally increased in dystrophic mice. Accordingly, the overall muscle function was similarly reduced in both dystrophic mice compared with WT. These data demonstrated that there was transformation of standard proteasomes to immunoproteasomes in dystrophic muscles. In addition, DKO that showed greatest increase in proteasome activities also demonstrated more severe atrophy compared with MDX and WT. These results suggest a putative role for the immunoproteasome in muscle deterioration associated with DMD and provide a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
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Acknowledgments This project was funded in part by Gregory Marzolf Jr. Muscular Dystrophy Training Grant from Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center, University of Minnesota, the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences, University of Minnesota, NIH T32 (T32-AG029796), NIH F31 (F31-AG044108) and NIH R01 (R01-AG017768-10).
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy