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Genome editing corrects a muscle disease
Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy find their muscles growing progressively weaker. Studies identified dystrophin as the culprit gene, which galvanized research into gene-targeted therapies. Long et al. apply genome editing to “correct” the disease-causing mutation in mice genetically destined to develop the disease. This germline editing strategy kept muscles from degenerating, even in mice harboring only a small percentage of corrected cells. Although not feasible for humans, this proof of concept sets the stage for applying genome editing to specific cell types involved in the disease.
Science, this issue p. 1184
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an inherited X-linked disease caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, a protein required for muscle fiber integrity. DMD is characterized by progressive muscle weakness and a shortened life span, and there is no effective treatment. We used clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/Cas9 (CRISPR/Cas9)–mediated genome editing to correct the dystrophin gene (Dmd) mutation in the germ line of mdx mice, a model for DMD, and then monitored muscle structure and function. Genome editing produced genetically mosaic animals containing 2 to 100% correction of the Dmd gene. The degree of muscle phenotypic rescue in mosaic mice exceeded the efficiency of gene correction, likely reflecting an advantage of the corrected cells and their contribution to regenerating muscle. With the anticipated technological advances that will facilitate genome editing of postnatal somatic cells, this strategy may one day allow correction of disease-causing mutations in the muscle tissue of patients with DMD.