A decline in PABPN1 induces progressive muscle weakness in oculopharyngeal muscle dystrophy and in muscle aging

Aging (Albany NY). 2013 Jun;5(6):412-26. doi: 10.18632/aging.100567.


Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is caused by trinucleotide repeat expansion mutations in Poly(A) binding protein 1 (PABPN1). PABPN1 is a regulator of mRNA stability and is ubiquitously expressed. Here we investigated how symptoms in OPMD initiate only at midlife and why a subset of skeletal muscles is predominantly affected. Genome-wide RNA expression profiles from Vastus lateralis muscles human carriers of expanded-PABPN1 at pre-symptomatic and symptomatic stages were compared with healthy controls. Major expression changes were found to be associated with age rather than with expression of expanded-PABPN1, instead transcriptomes of OPMD and elderly muscles were significantly similar (P<0.05). Using k-means clustering we identified age-dependent trends in both OPMD and controls, but trends were often accelerated in OPMD. We report an age-regulated decline in PABPN1 levels in Vastus lateralis muscles from the fifth decade. In concurrence with severe muscle degeneration in OPMD, the decline in PABPN1 accelerated in OPMD and was specific to skeletal muscles. Reduced PABPN1 levels (30% to 60%) in muscle cells induced myogenic defects and morphological signatures of cellular aging in proportion to PABPN1 expression levels. We suggest that PABPN1 levels regulate muscle cell aging and OPMD represents an accelerated muscle aging disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / genetics*
  • Muscle Weakness / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Oculopharyngeal / metabolism*
  • Poly(A)-Binding Protein I / genetics
  • Poly(A)-Binding Protein I / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcriptome
  • Young Adult


  • PABPN1 protein, human
  • Poly(A)-Binding Protein I
  • RNA, Messenger