Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked recessive disease characterized by progressive muscle loss and weakness. This disease arises from a mutation that occurs on a gene that encodes for dystrophin, which results in observable muscle death and inflammation; however, the genetic changes that result from dystrophin's dysfunctionality remain unknown. Current DMD research uses mdx mice as a model, and while very useful, does not allow the study of cell-autonomous transcriptome changes during the progression of DMD due to the strong inflammatory response, perhaps hiding important therapeutic targets. C. elegans, which has a very weak inflammatory response compared to mdx mice and humans, has been used in the past to study DMD with some success. The worm ortholog of the dystrophin gene has been identified as dys-1 since its mutation phenocopies the progression of the disease and a portion of the human dystrophin gene alleviates symptoms. Importantly, the extracted RNA transcriptome from dys-1 worms showed significant change in gene expression, which needs to be further investigated with the development of a more robust model. Our lab previously published a method to isolate high-quality muscle-specific RNA from worms, which could be used to study such changes at higher resolution. We crossed the dys-1 worms with our muscle-specific strain and demonstrated that the chimeric strain exhibits similar behavioral symptoms as DMD patients as characterized by a shortened lifespan, difficulty in movement, and a decrease in speed. The presence of dys-1 and other members of the dystrophin complex in the body muscle were supported by the development of a resulting phenotype due to RNAi knockdown of each component in the body muscle; however, further experimentation is needed to reinforce this conclusion. Thus, the constructed chimeric C. elegans strain possesses unique characteristics that will allow the study of genetic changes, such as transcriptome rearrangements and dysregulation of miRNA, and how they affect the progression of DMD.
- C. elegans as a Model to Study Muscle Specific Changes in Duchenne Muscle Dystrophy
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