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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 11;108(2):762-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1013067108. Epub 2010 Dec 27.

Biglycan recruits utrophin to the sarcolemma and counters dystrophic pathology in mdx mice.

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Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by mutations in dystrophin and the subsequent disruption of the dystrophin-associated protein complex (DAPC). Utrophin is a dystrophin homolog expressed at high levels in developing muscle that is an attractive target for DMD therapy. Here we show that the extracellular matrix protein biglycan regulates utrophin expression in immature muscle and that recombinant human biglycan (rhBGN) increases utrophin expression in cultured myotubes. Systemically delivered rhBGN up-regulates utrophin at the sarcolemma and reduces muscle pathology in the mdx mouse model of DMD. RhBGN treatment also improves muscle function as judged by reduced susceptibility to eccentric contraction-induced injury. Utrophin is required for the rhBGN therapeutic effect. Several lines of evidence indicate that biglycan acts by recruiting utrophin protein to the muscle membrane. RhBGN is well tolerated in animals dosed for as long as 3 months. We propose that rhBGN could be a therapy for DMD.

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