Mechanistic aspects of the formation of α-dystroglycan and therapeutic research for the treatment of α-dystroglycanopathy: A review

Mol Aspects Med. 2016 Oct:51:115-24. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2016.07.003. Epub 2016 Jul 12.


α-Dystroglycanopathy, an autosomal recessive disease, is associated with the development of a variety of diseases, including muscular dystrophy. In humans, α-dystroglycanopathy includes various types of congenital muscular dystrophy such as Fukuyama type congenital muscular dystrophy (FCMD), muscle eye brain disease (MEB), and the Walker Warburg syndrome (WWS), and types of limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2I (LGMD2I). α-Dystroglycanopathy share a common etiology, since it is invariably caused by gene mutations that are associated with the O-mannose glycosylation pathway of α-dystroglycan (α-DG). α-DG is a central member of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex (DGC) family in peripheral membranes, and the proper glycosylation of α-DG is essential for it to bind to extracellular matrix proteins, such as laminin, to cell components. The disruption of this ligand-binding is thought to result in damage to cell membrane integration, leading to the development of muscular dystrophy. Clinical manifestations of α-dystroglycanopathy frequently include mild to severe alterations in the central nervous system and optical manifestations in addition to muscular dystrophy. Eighteen causative genes for α-dystroglycanopathy have been identified to date, and it is likely that more will be reported in the near future. These findings have stimulated extensive and energetic investigations in this research field, and novel glycosylation pathways have been implicated in the process. At the same time, the use of gene therapy, antisense therapy, and enzymatic supplementation have been evaluated as therapeutic possibilities for some types of α-dystroglycanopathy. Here we review the molecular and clinical findings associated with α-dystroglycanopathy and the development of therapeutic approaches, by comparing the approaches with the development of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Keywords: Antisense therapy; Fukuyama congenital muscular dystrophy; Glycosyltransferase; O-Mannose glycan; Ribitol 5-phosphate; α-DG.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Dystroglycans / chemistry
  • Dystroglycans / metabolism
  • Enzyme Replacement Therapy
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Glycosyltransferases
  • Humans
  • Walker-Warburg Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Walker-Warburg Syndrome* / therapy


  • Dystroglycans
  • Glycosyltransferases