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Microsc Res Tech. 2000 Feb 1-15;48(3-4):167-80.

Sarcoglycans in muscular dystrophy.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


Muscular dystrophy is a heterogeneous genetic disease that affects skeletal and cardiac muscle. The genetic defects associated with muscular dystrophy include mutations in dystrophin and its associated glycoproteins, the sarcoglycans. Furthermore, defects in dystrophin have been shown to cause a disruption of the normal expression and localization of the sarcoglycan complex. Thus, abnormalities of sarcoglycan are a common molecular feature in a number of dystrophies. By combining biochemistry, molecular cell biology, and human and mouse genetics, a growing understanding of the sarcoglycan complex is emerging. Sarcoglycan appears to be an important, independent mediator of dystrophic pathology in both skeletal muscle and heart. The absence of sarcoglycan leads to alterations of membrane permeability and apoptosis, two shared features of a number of dystrophies. beta-sarcoglycan and delta-sarcoglycan may form the core of the sarcoglycan subcomplex with alpha- and gamma-sarcoglycan less tightly associated to this core. The relationship of epsilon-sarcoglycan to the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex remains unclear. Animals lacking alpha-, gamma- and delta-sarcoglycan have been described and provide excellent opportunities for further investigation of the function of sarcoglycan. Dystrophin with dystroglycan and laminin may be a mechanical link between the actin cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix. By positioning itself in close proximity to dystrophin and dystroglycan, sarcoglycan may function to couple mechanical and chemical signals in striated muscle. Sarcoglycan may be an independent signaling or regulatory module whose position in the membrane is determined by dystrophin but whose function is carried out independent of the dystrophin-dystroglycan-laminin axis.

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