RNAi-mediated knockdown of dystrophin expression in adult mice does not lead to overt muscular dystrophy pathology

Hum Mol Genet. 2008 Sep 1;17(17):2622-32. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddn162. Epub 2008 May 28.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal muscle wasting disorder caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. DMD has a complex and as yet incompletely defined molecular pathophysiology. The peak of the pathology attributed to dystrophin deficiency happens between 3 and 8 weeks of age in mdx mice, the animal model of DMD. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the pathology observed with dystrophin deficiency may be developmentally regulated. Initially, we demonstrated that profound small interfering RNA-mediated dystrophin knockdown could be achieved in mouse primary muscle cultures. The use of adeno-associated virus vectors to express short-hairpin RNAs targeting dystrophin in skeletal muscle in vivo yielded a potent and specific dystrophin knockdown, but only after approximately 5 months, indicating the very long half-life of dystrophin. Interestingly, and in contrast to what is observed in congenital dystrophin deficiency, long-term ( approximately 1 year) dystrophin knockdown in adult mice did not result, per se, in overt dystrophic pathology or upregulation of utrophin. This supports our hypothesis and suggests new pathophysiology of the disease. Furthermore, taking into account the rather long half-life of dystrophin, and the notion that the development of pathology is age-dependent, it indicates that a single gene therapy approach before the onset of pathology might convey a long-term cure for DMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dystrophin / genetics*
  • Dystrophin / metabolism
  • Methenamine / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Animal / physiopathology*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Dystrophin
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Methenamine