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Expert Rev Mol Med. 2009 Sep 28;11:e28. doi: 10.1017/S1462399409001203.

Sarcoglycanopathies: molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic prospects.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padova, 35121 Padova, Italy.


Sarcoglycanopathies are a group of autosomal recessive muscle-wasting disorders caused by genetic defects in one of four cell membrane glycoproteins, alpha-, beta-, gamma- or delta-sarcoglycan. These four sarcoglycans form a subcomplex that is closely linked to the major dystrophin-associated protein complex, which is essential for membrane integrity during muscle contraction and provides a scaffold for important signalling molecules. Proper assembly, trafficking and targeting of the sarcoglycan complex is of vital importance, and mutations that severely perturb tetramer formation and localisation result in sarcoglycanopathy. Gene defects in one sarcoglycan cause the absence or reduced concentration of the other subunits. Most genetic defects generate mutated proteins that are degraded through the cell's quality control system; however, in many cases, conformational modifications do not affect the function of the protein, yet it is recognised as misfolded and prematurely degraded. Recent evidence shows that misfolded sarcoglycans could be rescued to the cell membrane by assisting their maturation along the ER secretory pathway. This review summarises the etiopathogenesis of sarcoglycanopathies and highlights the quality control machinery as a potential pharmacological target for therapy of these genetic disorders.

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