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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 1, 1992; 89(23): 11642–11644.

Detection of dystrophin in the postsynaptic density of rat brain and deficiency in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a common, lethal, chromosome X-linked inherited disease. Moderate cognitive impairment is a feature of DMD, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. DMD is characterized by a defect in a protein, dystrophin, that is located predominantly in muscle but has been detected in brain. We sought to directly localize dystrophin within the complex synaptic structure of the cerebral cortex by focusing on the postsynaptic density (PSD), which appears to be central to synaptic function. We report that a specific anti-dystrophin antibody (anti 6-10) recognizes three distinct proteins in the purified PSD: the 400-kDa dystrophin and two previously unidentified dystrophin-related proteins of 120 and 110 kDa. These proteins exhibited differential regional expression in PSDs from cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and olfactory bulb. In the cortical PSD, the 400-kDa dystrophin was predominant, whereas the 120-kDa protein was the major species in cerebellum and olfactory bulb PSDs. The three proteins were differentially expressed in the PSD during cortical development: the 400-kDa protein exhibited a selective 9-fold increase during postnatal days 7 to 10, suggesting a normal physiological role in synaptic maturation. The PSD from the mdx mouse, a model of human DMD, contained no detectable 400-kDa dystrophin but expressed the two dystrophin-related proteins. Our results indicate that brain dystrophins are localized to the PSD, potentially as three isoforms, and raise the possibility that cognitive abnormalities in DMD are attributable to synaptic dysfunction associated with deficits in brain dystrophin molecules.

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