Article

AAV6-mediated Systemic shRNA Delivery Reverses Disease in a Mouse Model of Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy

Dulbecco Telethon Institute and Division of Regenerative Medicine, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milano, Italy.
Molecular Therapy (Impact Factor: 6.43). 08/2011; 19(11):2055-64. DOI: 10.1038/mt.2011.153
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Treatment of dominantly inherited muscle disorders remains a difficult task considering the need to eliminate the pathogenic gene product in a body-wide fashion. We show here that it is possible to reverse dominant muscle disease in a mouse model of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). FSHD is a common form of muscular dystrophy associated with a complex cascade of epigenetic events following reduction in copy number of D4Z4 macrosatellite repeats located on chromosome 4q35. Several 4q35 genes have been examined for their role in disease, including FRG1. Overexpression of FRG1 causes features related to FSHD in transgenic mice and the FRG1 mouse is currently the only available mouse model of FSHD. Here we show that systemic delivery of RNA interference expression cassettes in the FRG1 mouse, after the onset of disease, led to a dose-dependent long-term FRG1 knockdown without signs of toxicity. Histological features including centrally nucleated fibers, fiber size reduction, fibrosis, adipocyte accumulation, and inflammation were all significantly improved. FRG1 mRNA knockdown resulted in a dramatic restoration of muscle function. Through RNA interference (RNAi) expression cassette redesign, our method is amenable to targeting any pathogenic gene offering a viable option for long-term, body-wide treatment of dominant muscle disease in humans.

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