Hypoglycosylation and reduced laminin-binding activity of α-dystroglycan are common characteristics of dystroglycanopathy, which is a group of congenital and limb-girdle muscular dystrophies. Fukuyama-type congenital muscular dystrophy (FCMD), caused by a mutation in the fukutin gene, is a severe form of dystroglycanopathy. A retrotransposal insertion in fukutin is seen in almost all cases of FCMD. To better understand the molecular pathogenesis of dystroglycanopathies and to explore therapeutic strategies, we generated knock-in mice carrying the retrotransposal insertion in the mouse fukutin ortholog. Knock-in mice exhibited hypoglycosylated α-dystroglycan; however, no signs of muscular dystrophy were observed. More sensitive methods detected minor levels of intact α-dystroglycan, and solid-phase assays determined laminin binding levels to be ∼50% of normal. In contrast, intact α-dystroglycan is undetectable in the dystrophic Largemyd mouse, and laminin-binding activity is markedly reduced. These data indicate that a small amount of intact α-dystroglycan is sufficient to maintain muscle cell integrity in knock-in mice, suggesting that the treatment of dystroglycanopathies might not require the full recovery of glycosylation. To examine whether glycosylation defects can be restored in vivo, we performed mouse gene transfer experiments. Transfer of fukutin into knock-in mice restored glycosylation of α-dystroglycan. In addition, transfer of LARGE produced laminin-binding forms of α-dystroglycan in both knock-in mice and the POMGnT1 mutant mouse, which is another model of dystroglycanopathy. Overall, these data suggest that even partial restoration of α-dystroglycan glycosylation and laminin-binding activity by replacing or augmenting glycosylation-related genes might effectively deter dystroglycanopathy progression and thus provide therapeutic benefits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology