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Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Jul 15;22(14):2795-810. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt127. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Novel Drosophila model of myotonic dystrophy type 1: phenotypic characterization and genome-wide view of altered gene expression.

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GReD Genetics, Reproduction and Development laboratory, INSERM U1103, CNRS UMR6293, University of Clermont-Ferrand, 28 place Henri Dunant, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystemic RNA-dominant disorder characterized by myotonia and muscle degeneration. In DM1 patients, the mutant DMPK transcripts containing expanded CUG repeats form nuclear foci and sequester the Muscleblind-like 1 splicing factor, resulting in mis-splicing of its targets. However, several pathological defects observed in DM1 and their link with disease progression remain poorly understood. In an attempt to fill this gap, we generated inducible transgenic Drosophila lines with increasing number of CTG repeats. Targeting the expression of these repeats to the larval muscles recapitulated in a repeat-size-dependent manner the major DM1 symptoms such as muscle hypercontraction, splitting of muscle fibers, reduced fiber size or myoblast fusion defects. Comparative transcriptional profiling performed on the generated DM1 lines and on the muscleblind (mbl)-RNAi line revealed that nuclear accumulation of toxic CUG repeats can affect gene expression independently of splicing or Mbl sequestration. Also, in mblRNAi contexts, the largest portion of deregulated genes corresponded to single-transcript genes, revealing an unexpected impact of the indirect influence of mbl on gene expression. Among the single-transcript Mbl targets is Muscle protein 20 involved in myoblast fusion and causing the reduced number of nuclei in muscles of mblRNAi larvae. Finally, by combining in silico prediction of Mbl targets with mblRNAi microarray data, we found the calcium pump dSERCA as a Mbl splice target and show that the membrane dSERCA isoform is sufficient to rescue a DM1-induced hypercontraction phenotype in a Drosophila model.

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