CaMKIIβ deregulation contributes to neuromuscular junction destabilization in Myotonic Dystrophy type I

Skelet Muscle. 2024 May 21;14(1):11. doi: 10.1186/s13395-024-00345-3.


Background: Myotonic Dystrophy type I (DM1) is the most common muscular dystrophy in adults. Previous reports have highlighted that neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) deteriorate in skeletal muscle from DM1 patients and mouse models thereof. However, the underlying pathomechanisms and their contribution to muscle dysfunction remain unknown.

Methods: We compared changes in NMJs and activity-dependent signalling pathways in HSALR and Mbnl1ΔE3/ΔE3 mice, two established mouse models of DM1.

Results: Muscle from DM1 mouse models showed major deregulation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases II (CaMKIIs), which are key activity sensors regulating synaptic gene expression and acetylcholine receptor (AChR) recycling at the NMJ. Both mouse models exhibited increased fragmentation of the endplate, which preceded muscle degeneration. Endplate fragmentation was not accompanied by changes in AChR turnover at the NMJ. However, the expression of synaptic genes was up-regulated in mutant innervated muscle, together with an abnormal accumulation of histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4), a known target of CaMKII. Interestingly, denervation-induced increase in synaptic gene expression and AChR turnover was hampered in DM1 muscle. Importantly, CaMKIIβ/βM overexpression normalized endplate fragmentation and synaptic gene expression in innervated Mbnl1ΔE3/ΔE3 muscle, but it did not restore denervation-induced synaptic gene up-regulation.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that CaMKIIβ-dependent and -independent mechanisms perturb synaptic gene regulation and muscle response to denervation in DM1 mouse models. Changes in these signalling pathways may contribute to NMJ destabilization and muscle dysfunction in DM1 patients.

Keywords: CaMKII; Fibre type; Myotonic dystrophy; Neuromuscular junctions; Synaptic genes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2* / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2* / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / pathology
  • Myotonic Dystrophy* / genetics
  • Myotonic Dystrophy* / metabolism
  • Myotonic Dystrophy* / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Junction* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / genetics
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism


  • Hdac5 protein, mouse
  • Camk2b protein, mouse