A dystrophic Duchenne mouse model for testing human antisense oligonucleotides

PLoS One. 2018 Feb 21;13(2):e0193289. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193289. eCollection 2018.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe muscle-wasting disease generally caused by reading frame disrupting mutations in the DMD gene resulting in loss of functional dystrophin protein. The reading frame can be restored by antisense oligonucleotide (AON)-mediated exon skipping, allowing production of internally deleted, but partially functional dystrophin proteins as found in the less severe Becker muscular dystrophy. Due to genetic variation between species, mouse models with mutations in the murine genes are of limited use to test and further optimize human specific AONs in vivo. To address this we have generated the del52hDMD/mdx mouse. This model carries both murine and human DMD genes. However, mouse dystrophin expression is abolished due to a stop mutation in exon 23, while the expression of human dystrophin is abolished due to a deletion of exon 52. The del52hDMD/mdx model, like mdx, shows signs of muscle dystrophy on a histological level and phenotypically mild functional impairment. Local administration of human specific vivo morpholinos induces exon skipping and dystrophin restoration in these mice. Depending on the number of mismatches, occasional skipping of the murine Dmd gene, albeit at low levels, could be observed. Unlike previous models, the del52hDMD/mdx model enables the in vivo analysis of human specific AONs targeting exon 51 or exon 53 on RNA and protein level and muscle quality and function. Therefore, it will be a valuable tool for optimizing human specific AONs and genome editing approaches for DMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Dystrophin* / genetics
  • Dystrophin* / metabolism
  • Exons*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / drug therapy
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / pathology
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense* / genetics
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense* / pharmacology
  • Sequence Deletion*


  • DMD protein, human
  • Dystrophin
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense

Grant support

The authors report receiving funding from the Duchenne Parent Project (the Netherlands) to cover part of the experiments reported in this study.