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J Cell Biol. 1998 Sep 7;142(5):1279-87.

Gamma-sarcoglycan deficiency leads to muscle membrane defects and apoptosis independent of dystrophin.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Section of Cardiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.


gamma-Sarcoglycan is a transmembrane, dystrophin-associated protein expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The murine gamma-sarcoglycan gene was disrupted using homologous recombination. Mice lacking gamma-sarcoglycan showed pronounced dystrophic muscle changes in early life. By 20 wk of age, these mice developed cardiomyopathy and died prematurely. The loss of gamma-sarcoglycan produced secondary reduction of beta- and delta-sarcoglycan with partial retention of alpha- and epsilon-sarcoglycan, suggesting that beta-, gamma-, and delta-sarcoglycan function as a unit. Importantly, mice lacking gamma-sarco- glycan showed normal dystrophin content and local- ization, demonstrating that myofiber degeneration occurred independently of dystrophin alteration. Furthermore, beta-dystroglycan and laminin were left intact, implying that the dystrophin-dystroglycan-laminin mechanical link was unaffected by sarcoglycan deficiency. Apoptotic myonuclei were abundant in skeletal muscle lacking gamma-sarcoglycan, suggesting that programmed cell death contributes to myofiber degeneration. Vital staining with Evans blue dye revealed that muscle lacking gamma-sarcoglycan developed membrane disruptions like those seen in dystrophin-deficient muscle. Our data demonstrate that sarcoglycan loss was sufficient, and that dystrophin loss was not necessary to cause membrane defects and apoptosis. As a common molecular feature in a variety of muscular dystrophies, sarcoglycan loss is a likely mediator of pathology.

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