We recently described a family where a deletion of the dystrophin gene was associated with a severe dilated cardiomyopathy without skeletal muscle weakness. The deletion removed the muscle promoter region and the first muscle exon, but not the brain or Purkinje-cell promoters. Dystrophin was detected immunocytochemically in the skeletal muscle from this family, despite the fact that the deletion eliminated the transcriptional start site of the muscle isoform. In order to determine which promoter was driving dystrophin transcription in skeletal muscle of these individuals, we first evaluated the expression of the exon 1 of muscle, brain, and Purkinje-cell isoforms in normal human skeletal and cardiac muscles and in mouse brain and cerebellum. Our data indicate that, with the exception of minimal expression of the brain isoform, only the muscle isoform is significantly transcribed in skeletal muscle, whereas both the exon 1 muscle and brain isoforms are highly expressed in cardiac muscle. In contrast to what is observed in normal muscle, the skeletal muscle of our patients showed expression of both the brain and the Purkinje-cell isoforms. The overexpression, in skeletal muscle, of these two isoforms thus appears to be of crucial importance in preventing a myopathy in these affected males. The reason for the severe cardiomyopathy remains speculative, in the absence of dystrophin data on their heart. However, we have found in the 5' end of intron 1, a region deleted in our cases, regulatory sequences that might be of importance for dystrophin expression in various tissues. It is also possible that the deletion present in this family affects specifically one of the two dystrophin actin-binding domains.
Transcription of the dystrophin gene in normal tissues and in skeletal muscle of a family with X-linked dilated cardiomyopathy / MUNTONI F; MELIS MA; GANAU A; DUBOWITZ V. - In: AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS. - ISSN 0002-9297. - 56:(1995), pp. 151-157.