Navigation Links
Another muscular dystrophy mystery solved; MU scientists inch closer to a therapy for patients

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Approximately 250,000 people in the United States suffer from muscular dystrophy, which occurs when damaged muscle tissue is replaced with fibrous, bony or fatty tissue and loses function. Three years ago, University of Missouri scientists found a molecular compound that is vital to curing the disease, but they didn't know how to make the compound bind to the muscle cells. In a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, MU School of Medicine scientists Yi Lai and Dongsheng Duan have discovered the missing pieces to this puzzle that could ultimately lead to a therapy and, potentially, a longer lifespan for patients suffering from the disease.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), predominantly affecting males, is the most common type of muscular dystrophy. Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have a gene mutation that disrupts the production of dystrophin, a protein essential for muscle cell survival and function. Absence of dystrophin starts a chain reaction that eventually leads to muscle cell degeneration and death. While dystrophin is vital for muscle development, the protein also needs several "helpers" to maintain the muscle tissue. One of these "helper" molecular compounds is nNOS, which produces nitric oxide that can keep muscle cells healthy after exercise.

"Dystrophin not only helps build muscle cells, it's also a key factor to attracting nNOS to the muscles cells and helping nNOS bind to the cell and help repair it following activity," said Lai, a research assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. "Prior to this discovery, we didn't know how dystrophin made nNOS bind to the cells. What we found was that dystrophin has a special 'claw' that is used to grab nNOS and bring it close to the muscle cell. Now that we have that key, we hope to begin the process of developing a therapy for patients."

In their study, Lai and Duan found that two particular sections of the dystrophin gene must be present for nNOS to bind to the muscle cells. The sections of the gene, known as "repeaters 16 & 17," contain a "claw" that can grab nNOS and bring it to the muscle cells so that it will bind and repair any damage from regular use. Without this "claw," nNOS doesn't bind to the cells and the damage is not repaired, leading to further problems associated with muscular dystrophy.

The other key to this puzzle is dystrophin. If the protein is not present in the body, no "claw" exists and nNOS would never make it to the muscle cells. For years, scientists have been attempting to find ways to make the body manufacture more dystrophin, and thus get more nNOS to the muscle cells. Duan and Lai said the answer might lie elsewhere.

"Everybody, including those individuals with muscular dystrophy, has another protein known as 'utrophin,'" said Duan, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology. "Utrophin is nearly identical to dystrophin except that it is missing repeaters 16 & 17, so it cannot attract nNOS to the muscle cells. In our study, we were able to modify utrophin so that it had the repeaters, and thus, the ability to grab nNOS and bring it to the muscle cells for repair. Our study was completed in mice; if we can do the same thing in larger animals, we could eventually have a significant therapy for humans with this devastating disease."


Contact: Christian Basi
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related biology news :

1. Nanotherapy: Treating deadly brain tumors by delivering big radiation with tiny tools
2. Happy Fathers Day! Another reason why dads and hopeful dads should quit smoking now
3. Giving ancient life another chance to evolve
4. Flightless molecule may prevent cancer from spreading from 1 tissue to another
5. Study proves that 1 extinction leads to another
6. New genetically engineered mice aid understanding of incurable neuromuscular disease
7. Real-life spider men using protein found in venom to develop muscular dystrophy treatment
8. Low oxygen levels may decrease life-saving protein in spinal muscular atrophy
9. MDA supports Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by University of Nevada School of Medicine
10. An important breakthrough in the fight against muscular dystrophies
11. Mutations in genes that modify DNA packaging result in Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Another muscular dystrophy mystery solved; MU scientists inch closer to a therapy for patients
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 ... au 19 novembre  2015.  --> Paris ... --> DERMALOG, le leader de l,innovation biométrique, ... la fois passeports et empreintes sur la même surface ... les passeports et l,autre pour les empreintes digitales. Désormais, ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... interface solutions, today announced expansion of its TDDI ... touch controller and display driver integration (TDDI) ... smartphones. These new TDDI products add to the ... resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... --  Growing need for low-cost, easy to use, ... the way for use of biochemical sensors for ... clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. Presently, ... applications, however, their adoption is increasing in agricultural, ... on improving product quality and growing need to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by Product & ... Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, Pharmaceutical & ... by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to reach USD ... 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% during the forecast ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today announced that ... 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel time, at the ... Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, Tel Aviv, Israel ... Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the Board of Directors; ... external directors; , approval of an amendment to certain terms of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... Technologies, Inc., on being named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of ... OrthoAccel manufactures AcceleDent®, a FDA-cleared, Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 , ... a European healthcare fund ... companies will work closely together in identifying European breakthrough technologies ... need. The collaboration is underpinned by a significant investment by ... is the first investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ...
Breaking Biology Technology: