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Mol Ther. 2011 Nov;19(11):2048-54. doi: 10.1038/mt.2011.118. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

RNA interference improves myopathic phenotypes in mice over-expressing FSHD region gene 1 (FRG1).

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  • 1Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Graduate Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


Muscular dystrophies, and other diseases of muscle, arise from recessive and dominant gene mutations. Gene replacement strategies may be beneficial for the former, while gene silencing approaches may provide treatment for the latter. In the last two decades, muscle-directed gene therapies were primarily focused on treating recessive disorders. This disparity at least partly arose because feasible mechanisms to silence dominant disease genes lagged behind gene replacement strategies. With the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and its subsequent development as a promising new gene silencing tool, the landscape has changed. In this study, our objective was to demonstrate proof-of-principle for RNAi therapy of a dominant myopathy in vivo. We tested the potential of adeno-associated viral (AAV)-delivered therapeutic microRNAs, targeting the human Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) region gene 1 (FRG1), to correct myopathic features in mice expressing toxic levels of human FRG1 (FRG1(-high) mice). We found that FRG1 gene silencing improved muscle mass, strength, and histopathological abnormalities associated with muscular dystrophy in FRG1(-high) mice, thereby demonstrating therapeutic promise for treatment of dominantly inherited myopathies using RNAi. This approach potentially applies to as many as 29 different gene mutations responsible for myopathies inherited as dominant disorders.

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