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J Cell Biol. 2000 Dec 25;151(7):1583-90.

Loss of calpain 3 proteolytic activity leads to muscular dystrophy and to apoptosis-associated IkappaBalpha/nuclear factor kappaB pathway perturbation in mice.

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Généthon, CNRS URA 1922-1923, 91000 Evry, France.


Calpain 3 is known as the skeletal muscle-specific member of the calpains, a family of intracellular nonlysosomal cysteine proteases. It was previously shown that defects in the human calpain 3 gene are responsible for limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A (LGMD2A), an inherited disease affecting predominantly the proximal limb muscles. To better understand the function of calpain 3 and the pathophysiological mechanisms of LGMD2A and also to develop an adequate model for therapy research, we generated capn3-deficient mice by gene targeting. capn3-deficient mice are fully fertile and viable. Allele transmission in intercross progeny demonstrated a statistically significant departure from Mendel's law. capn3-deficient mice show a mild progressive muscular dystrophy that affects a specific group of muscles. The age of appearance of myopathic features varies with the genetic background, suggesting the involvement of modifier genes. Affected muscles manifest a similar apoptosis-associated perturbation of the IkappaBalpha/nuclear factor kappaB pathway as seen in LGMD2A patients. In addition, Evans blue staining of muscle fibers reveals that the pathological process due to calpain 3 deficiency is associated with membrane alterations.

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