The role of intracellular calcium perturbations in muscle damage and dysfunction in mouse models of muscular dystrophy
Mázala, Davi Augusto Garcia
Chin, Eva R
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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a neuromuscular disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. DMD is clinically characterized by severe, progressive and irreversible loss of muscle function, in which most patients lose the ability to walk by their early teens and die by their early 20’s. Impaired intracellular calcium (Ca2+) regulation and activation of cell degradation pathways have been proposed as key contributors to DMD disease progression. This dissertation research consists of three studies investigating the role of intracellular Ca2+ in skeletal muscle dysfunction in different mouse models of DMD. Study one evaluated the role of Ca2+-activated enzymes (proteases) that activate protein degradation in excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling failure following repeated contractions in mdx and dystrophin-utrophin null (mdx/utr-/-) mice. Single muscle fibers from mdx/utr-/- mice had greater E-C coupling failure following repeated contractions compared to fibers from mdx mice. Moreover, protease inhibition during these contractions was sufficient to attenuate E-C coupling failure in muscle fibers from both mdx and mdx/utr-/- mice. Study two evaluated the effects of overexpressing the Ca2+ buffering protein sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 1 (SERCA1) in skeletal muscles from mdx and mdx/utr-/- mice. Overall, SERCA1 overexpression decreased muscle damage and protected the muscle from contraction-induced injury in mdx and mdx/utr-/- mice. In study three, the cellular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of SERCA1 overexpression in mdx and mdx/utr-/- mice were investigated. SERCA1 overexpression attenuated calpain activation in mdx muscle only, while partially attenuating the degradation of the calpain target desmin in mdx/utr-/- mice. Additionally, SERCA1 overexpression decreased the SERCA-inhibitory protein sarcolipin in mdx muscle but did not alter levels of Ca2+ regulatory proteins (parvalbumin and calsequestrin) in either dystrophic model. Lastly, SERCA1 overexpression blunted the increase in endoplasmic reticulum stress markers Grp78/BiP in mdx mice and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) in mdx and mdx/utr-/- mice. Overall, findings from the studies presented in this dissertation provide new insight into the role of Ca2+ in muscle dysfunction and damage in different dystrophic mouse models. Further, these findings support the overall strategy for improving intracellular Ca2+ control for the development of novel therapies for DMD.