Premature stop codons involved in muscular dystrophies show a broad spectrum of readthrough efficiencies in response to gentamicin treatment

Gene Ther. 2004 Apr;11(7):619-27. doi: 10.1038/


The suppression levels induced by gentamicin on premature stop codons, caused by primary nonsense mutations found in muscular dystrophy patients, were assessed using a very sensitive dual reporter gene assay. Results show that: (i) the effect of gentamicin on readthrough is similar in cultured cells and in vivo in murine skeletal muscle; (ii) a wide variability of readthrough efficiency is obtained, depending on the mutation tested; (iii) due to the complexity of readthrough regulation, efficiency cannot be predicted by the nucleotide context of the stop codon; (iv) only a minority of premature stop codons found in patients show a significant level of readthrough, and would thus be amenable to this pharmacological treatment, given our present understanding of the problem. These results probably provide an explanation for the relative failure of clinical trials reported to date using gentamicin to treat diseases due to premature stop codons, and emphasize that preliminary assays in cell culture provide valuable information concerning the potential efficiency of pharmacological treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Codon, Terminator*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electroporation
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Gentamicins / therapeutic use*
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / drug therapy
  • Muscular Dystrophies / therapy*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Codon, Nonsense
  • Codon, Terminator
  • Gentamicins
  • Luciferases
  • beta-Galactosidase