In vivo genome editing improves muscle function in a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Science  22 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6271, pp. 403-407
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5143

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Editing can help build stronger muscles

Much of the controversy surrounding the gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 centers on the ethics of germline editing of human embryos to correct disease-causing mutations. For certain disorders such as muscular dystrophy, it may be possible to achieve therapeutic benefit by editing the faulty gene in somatic cells. In proof-of-concept studies, Long et al., Nelson et al., and Tabebordbar et al. used adeno-associated virus-9 to deliver the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system to young mice with a mutation in the gene coding for dystrophin, a muscle protein deficient in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Gene editing partially restored dystrophin protein expression in skeletal and cardiac muscle and improved skeletal muscle function.

Science, this issue p. 400, p. 403, p. 407


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating disease affecting about 1 out of 5000 male births and caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Genome editing has the potential to restore expression of a modified dystrophin gene from the native locus to modulate disease progression. In this study, adeno-associated virus was used to deliver the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)–Cas9 system to the mdx mouse model of DMD to remove the mutated exon 23 from the dystrophin gene. This includes local and systemic delivery to adult mice and systemic delivery to neonatal mice. Exon 23 deletion by CRISPR-Cas9 resulted in expression of the modified dystrophin gene, partial recovery of functional dystrophin protein in skeletal myofibers and cardiac muscle, improvement of muscle biochemistry, and significant enhancement of muscle force. This work establishes CRISPR-Cas9–based genome editing as a potential therapy to treat DMD.

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