Splicing Biomarkers of Disease Severity in Myotonic Dystrophy

Departments of Center for Neural Development and Disease, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Annals of Neurology (Impact Factor: 11.91). 12/2013; 74(6). DOI: 10.1002/ana.23992
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To develop RNA splicing biomarkers of disease severity and therapeutic response in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) and type 2 (DM2).
In a discovery cohort we used microarrays to perform global analysis of alternative splicing in DM1 and DM2. The newly identified splicing changes were combined with previous data to create a panel of 50 putative splicing defects. In a validation cohort of 50 DM1 subjects we measured the strength of ankle dorsiflexion (ADF) and then obtained a needle biopsy of tibialis anterior (TA) to analyze splice events in muscle RNA. The specificity of DM-associated splicing defects was assessed in disease controls. The CTG expansion size in muscle tissue was determined by Southern blot. The reversibility of splicing defects was assessed in transgenic mice by using antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) to reduce levels of toxic RNA.
Forty-two splicing defects were confirmed in TA muscle in the validation cohort. Among these, 20 events showed graded changes that correlated with ADF weakness. Five other splice events were strongly affected in DM1 subjects with normal ADF strength. Comparison to disease controls and mouse models indicated that splicing changes were DM-specific, mainly attributable to MBNL1 sequestration, and reversible in mice by targeted knockdown of toxic RNA. Splicing defects and weakness were not correlated with CTG expansion size in muscle tissue.
Alternative splicing changes in skeletal muscle may serve as biomarkers of disease severity and therapeutic response in myotonic dystrophy. ANN NEUROL 2013. © 2013 American Neurological Association.

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