Internal deletion compromises the stability of dystrophin

Davin M. Henderson, Joseph J. Belanto, Bin Li, Hanke Heun-Johnson, James M. Ervasti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a deadly and common childhood disease caused by mutations that disrupt dystrophin protein expression. Several miniaturized dystrophin/utrophin constructs are utilized for gene therapy, and while these constructs have shown promise in mouse models, the functional integrity of these proteins is not well described. Here, we compare the biophysical properties of full-length dystrophin and utrophin with therapeutically relevant miniaturized constructs using an insect cell expression system. Full-length utrophin, like dystrophin, displayed a highly cooperative melting transition well above 378C. Utrophin constructs involving N-terminal, C-terminal or internal deletions were remarkably stable, showing cooperative melting transitions identical to full-length utrophin. In contrast, large dystrophin deletions from either the N- or C-terminus exhibited variable stability, as evidenced by melting transitions that differed by 208C. Most importantly, deletions in the large central rod domain of dystrophin resulted in a loss of cooperative unfolding with increased propensity for aggregation. Our results suggest that the functionality of dystrophin therapeutics based on mini- or micro-constructs may be compromised by the presence of non-native protein junctions that result in protein misfolding, instability and aggregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberddr199
Pages (from-to)2955-2963
Number of pages9
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2011


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