Characterization of dystrophin and utrophin diversity in the mouse.
Utrophin is a 400 kDa autosomal homolog of dystrophin and a component of the submembranous cytoskeleton. While multiple dystrophin isoforms have been identified along with alternatively spliced products, to date only two different mRNA species of utrophin have been identified. To determine the degree of evolutionary conservation between dystrophin and utrophin isoforms, we have compared their expression patterns in adult mice. Northern blot analysis of multiple adult tissues confirmed that only two major sizes of transcripts are produced from each gene: 13 and 5.5 kb from utrophin and 14 and 4.8 kb from dystrophin. However, western blot analysis detected several putative short utrophin isoforms that may be homologs of the dystrophin isoforms Dp140, Dp116 and Dp71. We also identified an alternatively spliced utrophin transcript that lacks the equivalent of the alternatively spliced dystrophin exon 71. Finally, we demonstrated that the C-terminal domain of utrophin targeted to neuromuscular junctions in normal mice, but localized to the sarcolemma efficiently only in the absence of dystrophin. Our results provide further evidence for a common evolutionary origin of the utrophin and dystrophin genes. (+info)
Induction of utrophin gene expression by heregulin in skeletal muscle cells: role of the N-box motif and GA binding protein.
The modulation of utrophin gene expression in muscle by the nerve-derived factor agrin plausibly involves the trophic factor ARIA/heregulin. Here we show that heregulin treatment of mouse and human cultured myotubes caused a approximately 2.5-fold increase in utrophin mRNA levels. Transient transfection experiments with utrophin promoter-reporter gene constructs showed that this increase resulted from an enhanced transcription of the utrophin gene. In the case of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor delta and epsilon subunit genes, heregulin was previously reported to stimulate transcription via a conserved promoter element, the N-box, which binds the multimeric Ets-related transcription factor GA binding protein (GABP). Accordingly, site-directed mutagenesis of a single N-box motif in the utrophin gene promoter abolished the transcriptional response to heregulin. In addition, overexpression of heregulin, or of the two GABP subunits in cultured myotubes, caused an N-box-dependent increase of the utrophin promoter activity. In vivo, direct gene transfer into muscle confirmed that heregulin regulates utrophin gene expression. Finally, electrophoretic mobility shift assays and supershift experiments performed with muscle extracts revealed that the N-box of the utrophin promoter binds GABP. These findings suggest that the subsynaptic activation of transcription by heregulin via the N-box motif and GABP are conserved among genes expressed at the neuromuscular junction. Because utrophin can functionally compensate for the lack of dystrophin, the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms regulating utrophin gene transcription may ultimately lead to therapies based on utrophin expression throughout the muscle fibers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients. (+info)
Extensive but coordinated reorganization of the membrane skeleton in myofibers of dystrophic (mdx) mice.
We used immunofluorescence techniques and confocal imaging to study the organization of the membrane skeleton of skeletal muscle fibers of mdx mice, which lack dystrophin. beta-Spectrin is normally found at the sarcolemma in costameres, a rectilinear array of longitudinal strands and elements overlying Z and M lines. However, in the skeletal muscle of mdx mice, beta-spectrin tends to be absent from the sarcolemma over M lines and the longitudinal strands may be disrupted or missing. Other proteins of the membrane and associated cytoskeleton, including syntrophin, beta-dystroglycan, vinculin, and Na,K-ATPase are also concentrated in costameres, in control myofibers, and mdx muscle. They also distribute into the same altered sarcolemmal arrays that contain beta-spectrin. Utrophin, which is expressed in mdx muscle, also codistributes with beta-spectrin at the mutant sarcolemma. By contrast, the distribution of structural and intracellular membrane proteins, including alpha-actinin, the Ca-ATPase and dihydropyridine receptors, is not affected, even at sites close to the sarcolemma. Our results suggest that in myofibers of the mdx mouse, the membrane- associated cytoskeleton, but not the nearby myoplasm, undergoes widespread coordinated changes in organization. These changes may contribute to the fragility of the sarcolemma of dystrophic muscle. (+info)
Membrane targeting and stabilization of sarcospan is mediated by the sarcoglycan subcomplex.
The dystrophin-glycoprotein complex (DGC) is a multisubunit complex that spans the muscle plasma membrane and forms a link between the F-actin cytoskeleton and the extracellular matrix. The proteins of the DGC are structurally organized into distinct subcomplexes, and genetic mutations in many individual components are manifested as muscular dystrophy. We recently identified a unique tetraspan-like dystrophin-associated protein, which we have named sarcospan (SPN) for its multiple sarcolemma spanning domains (Crosbie, R.H., J. Heighway, D.P. Venzke, J.C. Lee, and K.P. Campbell. 1997. J. Biol. Chem. 272:31221-31224). To probe molecular associations of SPN within the DGC, we investigated SPN expression in normal muscle as a baseline for comparison to SPN's expression in animal models of muscular dystrophy. We show that, in addition to its sarcolemma localization, SPN is enriched at the myotendinous junction (MTJ) and neuromuscular junction (NMJ), where it is a component of both the dystrophin- and utrophin-glycoprotein complexes. We demonstrate that SPN is preferentially associated with the sarcoglycan (SG) subcomplex, and this interaction is critical for stable localization of SPN to the sarcolemma, NMJ, and MTJ. Our experiments indicate that assembly of the SG subcomplex is a prerequisite for targeting SPN to the sarcolemma. In addition, the SG- SPN subcomplex functions to stabilize alpha-dystroglycan to the muscle plasma membrane. Taken together, our data provide important information about assembly and function of the SG-SPN subcomplex. (+info)
A PDZ-containing scaffold related to the dystrophin complex at the basolateral membrane of epithelial cells.
Membrane scaffolding complexes are key features of many cell types, serving as specialized links between the extracellular matrix and the actin cytoskeleton. An important scaffold in skeletal muscle is the dystrophin-associated protein complex. One of the proteins bound directly to dystrophin is syntrophin, a modular protein comprised entirely of interaction motifs, including PDZ (protein domain named for PSD-95, discs large, ZO-1) and pleckstrin homology (PH) domains. In skeletal muscle, the syntrophin PDZ domain recruits sodium channels and signaling molecules, such as neuronal nitric oxide synthase, to the dystrophin complex. In epithelia, we identified a variation of the dystrophin complex, in which syntrophin, and the dystrophin homologues, utrophin and dystrobrevin, are restricted to the basolateral membrane. We used exogenously expressed green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged fusion proteins to determine which domains of syntrophin are responsible for its polarized localization. GFP-tagged full-length syntrophin targeted to the basolateral membrane, but individual domains remained in the cytoplasm. In contrast, the second PH domain tandemly linked to a highly conserved, COOH-terminal region was sufficient for basolateral membrane targeting and association with utrophin. The results suggest an interaction between syntrophin and utrophin that leaves the PDZ domain of syntrophin available to recruit additional proteins to the epithelial basolateral membrane. The assembly of multiprotein signaling complexes at sites of membrane specialization may be a widespread function of dystrophin-related protein complexes. (+info)
Activation of utrophin promoter by heregulin via the ets-related transcription factor complex GA-binding protein alpha/beta.
Utrophin/dystrophin-related protein is the autosomal homologue of the chromosome X-encoded dystrophin protein. In adult skeletal muscle, utrophin is highly enriched at the neuromuscular junction. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying regulation of utrophin gene expression are yet to be defined. Here we demonstrate that the growth factor heregulin increases de novo utrophin transcription in muscle cell cultures. Using mutant reporter constructs of the utrophin promoter, we define the N-box region of the promoter as critical for heregulin-mediated activation. Using this region of the utrophin promoter for DNA affinity purification, immunoblots, in vitro kinase assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and in vitro expression in cultured muscle cells, we demonstrate that ets-related GA-binding protein alpha/beta transcription factors are activators of the utrophin promoter. Taken together, these results suggest that the GA-binding protein alpha/beta complex of transcription factors binds and activates the utrophin promoter in response to heregulin-activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase in muscle cell cultures. These findings suggest methods for achieving utrophin up-regulation in Duchenne's muscular dystrophy as well as mechanisms by which neurite-derived growth factors such as heregulin may influence the regulation of utrophin gene expression and subsequent enrichment at the neuromuscular junction of skeletal muscle. (+info)
Up71 and up140, two novel transcripts of utrophin that are homologues of short forms of dystrophin.
Utrophin is a large protein which accumulates at the neuromuscular synapse and myotendinous junctions in adult skeletal muscle, and is widely expressed in several non-skeletal muscle tissues. Evidence from a variety of sources suggests that a successful strategy for treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients will be to increase expression of utrophin in muscle. There is still much to be learnt about utrophin gene regulation, in particular regarding alternative isoforms, their promoters and role in muscle and non-muscle tissues. Using 5"-RACE we have identified two novel transcripts of utrophin, Up71 and Up140, with unique first exons and promoters located in intron 62 and intron 44, respectively. These transcripts appear to be structural homologues of the short dystrophin transcripts, Dp140 and Dp71, emphasizing the high degree of structural conservation between the utrophin and dystrophin genes. RT-PCR shows that Up71 and Up140 are widely expressed in both human and mouse tissues, including skeletal muscle. We present evidence for transcript-specific differential mRNA splicing of exon 71, in both Up71 and Up140, similar to that described for dystrophin. No evidence for splicing of exon 78 of utrophin was found. This is in contrast to dystrophin and may reflect a subtle functional difference in patterns of phosphorylation between the two proteins. (+info)
Expression of the utrophin gene during myogenic differentiation.
The process of myogenic differentiation is known to be accompanied by large increases ( approximately 10-fold) in the expression of genes encoding cytoskeletal and membrane proteins including dystrophin and the acetylcholine receptor (AChR) subunits, via the effects of transcription factors belonging to the MyoD family. Since in skeletal muscle (i) utrophin is a synaptic homolog to dystrophin, and (ii) the utrophin promoter contains an E-box, we examined, in the present study, expression of the utrophin gene during myogenic differentiation using the mouse C2 muscle cell line. We observed that in comparison to myoblasts, the levels of utrophin and its transcript were approximately 2-fold higher in differentiated myotubes. In order to address whether a greater rate of transcription contributed to the elevated levels of utrophin transcripts, we performed nuclear run-on assays. In these studies we determined that the rate of transcription of the utrophin gene was approximately 2-fold greater in myotubes as compared to myoblasts. Finally, we examined the stability of utrophin mRNAs in muscle cultures by two separate methods: following transcription blockade with actinomycin D and by pulse-chase experiments. Under these conditions, we determined that the half-life of utrophin mRNAs in myoblasts was approximately 20 h and that it remained largely unaffected during myogenic differentiation. Altogether, these results show that in comparison to other synaptic proteins and to dystrophin, expression of the utrophin gene is only moderately increased during myogenic differentiation. (+info)