Dystrophin gene repair in mdx muscle precursor cells in vitro and in vivo mediated by RNA-DNA chimeric oligonucleotides

Hum Gene Ther. 2002 Apr 10;13(6):707-18. doi: 10.1089/104303402317322276.


Point mutations in the dystrophin gene cause dystrophin deficiency and muscular dystrophy in the mdx mouse and a subset of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As an approach to gene therapy for muscular dystrophies due to point mutations, we have studied the ability of RNA-DNA chimeric oligonucleotides (chimeraplasts) to induce repair of the dystrophin gene in mdx mice. We have previously demonstrated that targeting chimeraplasts can repair the exon 23 point mutation in differentiated myofibers in vivo after intramuscular injection. For long-term benefit to patients with muscular dystrophy, any gene therapy technology must target not only differentiated myofibers but also undifferentiated muscle precursor cells that are involved in ongoing muscle repair. The focus of the current studies was to test whether chimeraplasts could repair the dystrophin mutation in mdx muscle precursor cells. Initial studies were done by transfecting a targeting chimeraplast into mdx myoblasts in vitro. Gene repair was demonstrated at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels in these cells, whereas treatment of the cells with a control chimeraplast resulted in no gene correction. After differentiation of mdx cells that had been treated with a targeting chimeraplast, immunoblot analysis demonstrated full-length dystrophin expression. By quantitative analysis of independent cultures, the amount of dystrophin expressed ranged from 2 to 15% of that expressed in wild-type cells, providing a measure of the efficacy of gene conversion in vitro. To extend the assessment to muscle precursor cells in vivo, we injected targeting and control chimeraplasts into muscles of mdx mice. When muscle precursor cells were subsequently derived from muscles injected with a targeting chimeraplast, we found that gene repair had occurred in these cells as well. These results, taken together, further demonstrate that chimeraplast-mediated gene repair may be effective as an approach to gene therapy for muscular dystrophies due to point mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Dystrophin / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscles / cytology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophies / therapy*
  • Stem Cells* / cytology


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Dystrophin