Efficient utrophin expression following adenovirus gene transfer in dystrophic muscle.
Gilbert R., Nalbanoglu J., Tinsley JM., Massie B., Davies KE., Karpati G.
Utrophin is a homologue of dystrophin, the protein whose absence is responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). As a first step toward clarifying if adenovirus (AV)-mediated utrophin transfer is a possible option to treat DMD, we have constructed an AV expressing utrophin (AdCMV-Utr) and studied utrophin expression after intramuscular injection of mdx mice, the mouse DMD model. Overexpression of utrophin by AdCMV-Utr was marked and nontoxic. The recombinant utrophin was distributed homogeneously at the surface of the muscle fibers. Its expression was sufficient to restore the normal histochemical pattern of alpha-sarcoglycan and beta-dystroglycan at this site. These two proteins are members of the dystrophin associated protein complex whose distribution is greatly reduced at the surface of the DMD muscle. These data indicate that AV-mediated utrophin transfer is an efficient way of utrophin upregulation in muscle and has the potential of becoming a treatment for DMD.