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Cerro-Herreros, E., Chakraborty, M., Pérez-Alonso, M., Artero, R., Llamusí, B. (2017). Expanded CCUG repeat RNA expression in Drosophila heart and muscle trigger Myotonic Dystrophy type 1-like phenotypes and activate autophagocytosis genes.  Sci. Rep. 7(1): 2843.
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Research paper

Myotonic dystrophies (DM1-2) are neuromuscular genetic disorders caused by the pathological expansion of untranslated microsatellites. DM1 and DM2, are caused by expanded CTG repeats in the 3'UTR of the DMPK gene and CCTG repeats in the first intron of the CNBP gene, respectively. Mutant RNAs containing expanded repeats are retained in the cell nucleus, where they sequester nuclear factors and cause alterations in RNA metabolism. However, for unknown reasons, DM1 is more severe than DM2. To study the differences and similarities in the pathogenesis of DM1 and DM2, we generated model flies by expressing pure expanded CUG (250×) or CCUG (1100×) repeats, respectively, and compared them with control flies expressing either 20 repeat units or GFP. We observed surprisingly severe muscle reduction and cardiac dysfunction in CCUG-expressing model flies. The muscle and cardiac tissue of both DM1 and DM2 model flies showed DM1-like phenotypes including overexpression of autophagy-related genes, RNA mis-splicing and repeat RNA aggregation in ribonuclear foci along with the Muscleblind protein. These data reveal, for the first time, that expanded non-coding CCUG repeat-RNA has similar in vivo toxicity potential as expanded CUG RNA in muscle and heart tissues and suggests that specific, as yet unknown factors, quench CCUG-repeat toxicity in DM2 patients.

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PMC5460254 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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