Ex vivo gene editing of the dystrophin gene in muscle stem cells mediated by peptide nucleic acid single stranded oligodeoxynucleotides induces stable expression of dystrophin in a mouse model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Stem Cells. 2014 Jul;32(7):1817-30. doi: 10.1002/stem.1668.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene, which result in the complete absence of dystrophin protein throughout the body. Gene correction strategies hold promise to treating DMD. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated the ability of peptide nucleic acid single-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides (PNA-ssODNs) to permanently correct single-point mutations at the genomic level. In this study, we show that PNA-ssODNs can target and correct muscle satellite cells (SCs), a population of stem cells capable of self-renewing and differentiating into muscle fibers. When transplanted into skeletal muscles, SCs transfected with correcting PNA-ssODNs were able to engraft and to restore dystrophin expression. The number of dystrophin-positive fibers was shown to significantly increase over time. Expression was confirmed to be the result of the activation of a subpopulation of SCs that had undergone repair as demonstrated by immunofluorescence analyses of engrafted muscles using antibodies specific to full-length dystrophin transcripts and by genomic DNA analysis of dystrophin-positive fibers. Furthermore, the increase in dystrophin expression detected over time resulted in a significant improvement in muscle morphology. The ability of transplanted cells to return into quiescence and to activate upon demand was confirmed in all engrafted muscles following injury. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using gene editing strategies to target and correct SCs and further establish the therapeutic potential of this approach to permanently restore dystrophin expression into muscle of DMD patients.

Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Dystrophin; Gene editing; Gene repair; Muscle progenitor cells; Muscle stem cell; Satellite cells; Single stranded oligodeoxynucleotides; mdx5cv.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dystrophin / genetics*
  • Dystrophin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Mice, Nude
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / pathology*
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myoblasts, Skeletal / transplantation
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids / genetics*
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Transfection


  • Dystrophin
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids