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Nature. 1991 Aug 29;352(6338):815-8.

Human dystrophin expression in mdx mice after intramuscular injection of DNA constructs.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


Duchenne's muscular dystrophy (DMD), which affects one in 3,500 males, causes progressive myopathy of skeletal and cardiac muscles and premature death. One approach to treatment would be to introduce the normal dystrophin gene into diseased muscle cells. When pure plasmid DNA is injected into rodent skeletal or cardiac muscle, the cells express reporter genes. We now show that a 12-kilobase full-length human dystrophin complementary DNA gene and a 6.3-kilobase Becker-like gene can be expressed in cultured cells and in vivo. When the human dystrophin expression plasmids are injected intramuscularly into dystrophin-deficient mdx mice, the human dystrophin proteins are present in the cytoplasm and sarcolemma of approximately 1% of the myofibres. Myofibres expressing human dystrophin contain an increased proportion of peripheral nuclei. The results indicate that transfer of the dystrophin gene into the myofibres of DMD patients could be beneficial, but a larger number of genetically modified myofibres will be necessary for clinical efficacy.

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