Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) may be a new member of the class of neuromuscular diseases (NMD) due to defects in the nuclear envelope. Unlike other NMDs with primary defects in nuclear envelope proteins, however, FSHD may result from inappropriate chromatin interactions at the envelope. 3D Immuno-FISH and a novel method of 3D by 2D analysis using NucProfile were developed to examine nuclear organization of the FSHD genomic region. In contrast to most other telomeres, the FSHD region at 4q35.2 localizes to the nuclear periphery. This localization is consistent in normal myoblasts, myotubes, fibroblasts and lymphoblasts, does not vary significantly throughout the cell cycle, and is independent of chromosome territory effects. The nuclear lamina protein lamin A/C is required for FSHD region chromatin localization to the nuclear envelope, as the association is lost in lamin A/C null fibroblasts. As both normal and affected alleles (deleted for the subtelomeric repeat D4Z4) localize to the nuclear periphery, FSHD likely arises instead from improper interactions with transcription factors or chromatin modifiers at the nuclear envelope. Interestingly, it is not D4Z4 itself that mediates interaction with the envelope, as sequences proximal to D4Z4 (i.e. D4S139) localize closer to the nuclear periphery, perhaps accounting for the chromosome 4 specificity of the disease.
Copyright 2004 Oxford University Press