• dysferlin;
  • exon skipping;
  • gene therapy;
  • muscular dystrophy

The protein dysferlin is abundantly expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscles, where its main function is membrane repair. Mutations in the dysferlin gene are involved in two autosomal recessive muscular dystrophies: Miyoshi myopathy and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B. Development of effective therapies remains a great challenge. Strategies to repair the dysferlin gene by skipping mutated exons, using antisense oligonucleotides (AONs), may be suitable only for a subset of mutations, while cell and gene therapy can be extended to all mutations. AON-treated blood-derived CD133+ stem cells isolated from patients with Miyoshi myopathy led to partial dysferlin reconstitution in vitro but failed to express dysferlin after intramuscular transplantation into scid/blAJ dysferlin null mice. We thus extended these experiments producing the full-length dysferlin mediated by a lentiviral vector in blood-derived CD133+ stem cells isolated from the same patients. Transplantation of engineered blood-derived CD133+ stem cells into scid/blAJ mice resulted in sufficient dysferlin expression to correct functional deficits in skeletal muscle membrane repair. Our data suggest for the first time that lentivirus-mediated delivery of full-length dysferlin in stem cells isolated from Miyoshi myopathy patients could represent an alternative therapeutic approach for treatment of dysferlinopathies.