Delivery of miniaturized dystrophin genes via adeno-associated viral vectors is one leading approach in development to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Here we directly compared the functionality of five mini- and micro-dystrophins via skeletal muscle-specific transgenic expression in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice. We evaluated their ability to rescue defects in the microtubule network, passive stiffness and contractility of skeletal muscle. Transgenic mdx mice expressing the short dystrophin isoform Dp116 served as a negative control. All mini- and micro-dystrophins restored elevated detyrosinated α-tubulin and microtubule density of mdx muscle to values not different from C57BL/10, however, only mini-dystrophins restored the transverse component of the microtubule lattice back to C57BL/10. Passive stiffness values in mdx muscles expressing mini- or micro-dystrophins were not different from C57BL/10. While all mini- and micro-dystrophins conferred significant protection from eccentric contraction-induced force loss in vivo and ex vivo compared to mdx, removal of repeats two and three resulted in less protection from force drop caused by eccentric contraction ex vivo. Our data reveal subtle yet significant differences in the relative functionalities for different therapeutic constructs of miniaturized dystrophin in terms of protection from ex vivo eccentric contraction-induced force loss and restoration of an organized microtubule lattice.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases [R01 AR042423 to J.M.E.], the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [R01 NS90634 to D.D.], the National Institute on Aging Training Program for Functional Proteomics of Aging [T32 AG029796 to D.M.N.] and the Jackson Freel DMD Research Fund [D.D.].