Recombinant Truncated Dystrophin Minigenes: Construction, Expression, and Adenoviral Delivery
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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal genetic disorder for which there is currently no effective treatment. Although clinical application of adenoviral vector-mediated gene transfer has not been fully developed, it shows promise for the treatment of DMD. One significant problem posed by adenoviral vector-mediated gene transfer for DMD is that currently available adenoviral vectors cannot accommodate the entire 14-kb dystrophin cDNA. To address this problem, we selectively deleted regions of the murine dystrophin cDNA to produce truncated constructs. We created three constructs, each with an in-frame deletion of a segment (3.0, 4.4, and 5.7 kb) of the spectrin-like repeat region of dystrophin. As an additional modification, we removed the majority of the 3' untranslated region of the cDNA in expression vectors encoding some of these truncated constructs. Comparative quantitative expression studies after transfection into COS and C2C12 mouse muscle cells demonstrate variations in the level of expression with different deletions in the spectrin-like repeat region. Furthermore, deletion of the 3' untranslated region was tested for one recombinant construct and resulted in a reduction in the level of expression in both cell culture systems. Toward the ultimate goal of gene transfer therapy for DMD, we created an adenoviral vector from one of our truncated constructs. Using this vector, we demonstrated truncated dystrophin expression in vitro in primary mdx (dystrophin-deficient) muscle cells and in vivo in mdx mouse muscle. In vivo, recombinant dystrophin was properly localized to the muscle membrane.
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