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Development. 2004 Jun;131(12):3007-19.

Rescue of enzyme deficiency in embryonic diaphragm in a mouse model of metabolic myopathy: Pompe disease.

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Powell Gene Therapy Center, and Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Pediatrics, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


Several human genetic diseases that affect striated muscle have been modeled by creating knockout mouse strains. However, many of these are perinatal lethal mutations that result in death from respiratory distress within hours after birth. As the diaphragm muscle does not contract until birth, the sudden increase in diaphragm activity creates permanent injury to the muscle causing it to fail to meet respiratory demands. Therefore, the impact of these mutations remains hidden throughout embryonic development and early death prevents investigators from performing detailed studies of other striated muscle groups past the neonatal stage. Glycogen storage disease type II (GSDII), caused by a deficiency in acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA), leads to lysosomal accumulation of glycogen in all cell types and abnormal myofibrillogenesis in striated muscle. Contractile function of the diaphragm muscle is severely affected in both infantile-onset and late-onset individuals, with death often resulting from respiratory failure. The knockout mouse model of GSDII survives well into adulthood despite the gradual weakening of all striated muscle groups. Using this model, we investigated the delivery of recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors encoding the human GAA cDNA to the developing embryo. Results indicate specific high-level transduction of diaphragm tissue, leading to activity levels up to 10-fold higher than normal and restoration of normal contractile function. Up to an estimated 50 vector copies per diploid genome were quantified in treated diaphragms. Histological glycogen staining of treated diaphragms revealed prevention of lysosomal glycogen accumulation in almost all fibers when compared with untreated controls. This method could be employed with disease models where specific rescue of the diaphragm would allow for increased survival and thus further investigation into the impact of the gene deletion on other striated muscle groups.

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