Approximately two-thirds of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients show intragenic deletions ranging from one to several exons of the DMD gene and leading to a premature stop codon. Other deletions that maintain the translational reading frame of the gene result in the milder Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) form of the disease. Thus the opportunity to transform a DMD phenotype into a BMD phenotype appeared as a new treatment strategy with the development of antisense oligonucleotides technology, which is able to induce an exon skipping at the pre-mRNA level in order to restore an open reading frame. Because the DMD gene contains 79 exons, thousands of potential transcripts could be produced by exon skipping and should be investigated. The conventional approach considers skipping of a single exon. Here we report the comparison of single- and multiple-exon skipping strategies based on bioinformatic analysis. By using the Universal Mutation Database (UMD)-DMD, we predict that an optimal multiexon skipping leading to the del45-55 artificial dystrophin (c.6439_8217del) could transform the DMD phenotype into the asymptomatic or mild BMD phenotype. This multiple-exon skipping could theoretically rescue up to 63% of DMD patients with a deletion, while the optimal monoskipping of exon 51 would rescue only 16% of patients.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.