Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy: recent advances in the understanding of the molecular pathogenic mechanisms and treatment strategies

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Feb;1772(2):173-85. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2006.10.003. Epub 2006 Oct 11.


Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is an adult-onset disorder characterized by progressive eyelid drooping, swallowing difficulties and proximal limb weakness. OPMD is caused by a small expansion of a short polyalanine tract in the poly (A) binding protein nuclear 1 protein (PABPN1). The mechanism by which the polyalanine expansion mutation in PABPN1 causes disease is unclear. PABPN1 is a nuclear multi-functional protein which is involved in pre-mRNA polyadenylation, transcription regulation, and mRNA nucleocytoplasmic transport. The distinct pathological hallmark of OPMD is the presence of filamentous intranuclear inclusions (INIs) in patient's skeletal muscle cells. The exact relationship between mutant PABPN1 intranuclear aggregates and pathology is not clear. OPMD is a unique disease sharing common pathogenic features with other polyalanine disorders, as well as with polyglutamine and dystrophic disorders. This chapter aims to review the rapidly growing body of knowledge concerning OPMD. First, we outline the background of OPMD. Second, we compare OPMD with other trinucleotide repeat disorders. Third, we discuss the recent advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying OPMD pathogenesis. Finally, we review recent therapeutic strategies for OPMD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / etiology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / therapy*