Background: Emerging evidence implicates altered gene expression within skeletal muscle in the pathogenesis of Kennedy disease/spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (KD/SBMA). We therefore broadly characterized gene expression in skeletal muscle of three independently generated mouse models of this disease. The mouse models included a polyglutamine expanded (polyQ) AR knock-in model (AR113Q), a polyQ AR transgenic model (AR97Q), and a transgenic mouse that overexpresses wild type AR solely in skeletal muscle (HSA-AR). HSA-AR mice were included because they substantially reproduce the KD/SBMA phenotype despite the absence of polyQ AR.
Methodology/principal findings: We performed microarray analysis of lower hindlimb muscles taken from these three models relative to wild type controls using high density oligonucleotide arrays. All microarray comparisons were made with at least 3 animals in each condition, and only those genes having at least 2-fold difference and whose coefficient of variance was less than 100% were considered to be differentially expressed. When considered globally, there was a similar overlap in gene changes between the 3 models: 19% between HSA-AR and AR97Q, 21% between AR97Q and AR113Q, and 17% between HSA-AR and AR113Q, with 8% shared by all models. Several patterns of gene expression relevant to the disease process were observed. Notably, patterns of gene expression typical of loss of AR function were observed in all three models, as were alterations in genes involved in cell adhesion, energy balance, muscle atrophy and myogenesis. We additionally measured changes similar to those observed in skeletal muscle of a mouse model of Huntington's Disease, and to those common to muscle atrophy from diverse causes.
Conclusions/significance: By comparing patterns of gene expression in three independent models of KD/SBMA, we have been able to identify candidate genes that might mediate the core myogenic features of KD/SBMA.