Mutations in dystrophin can lead to Duchenne muscular dystrophy or the more mild form of the disease, Becker muscular dystrophy. The hinge 3 region in the rod domain of dystrophin is particularly prone to deletion mutations. In-frame deletions of hinge 3 are predicted to lead to BMD, however the severity of disease can vary considerably. Here we performed extensive structure-function analyses of truncated dystrophins with modified hinges and spectrin-like repeats in mdx mice. We found that the polyproline site in hinge 2 profoundly influences the functional capacity of a microdystrophin(DeltaR4-R23/DeltaCT) with a large deletion in the hinge 3 region. Inclusion of polyproline in microdystrophin(DeltaR4-R23/DeltaCT) led to small myofibers (12% smaller than wild-type), Achilles myotendinous disruption, ringed fibers, and aberrant neuromuscular junctions in the mdx gastrocnemius muscles. Replacing hinge 2 of microdystrophin(DeltaR4-R23/DeltaCT) with hinge 3 significantly improved the functional capacity to prevent muscle degeneration, increase muscle fiber area, and maintain the junctions. We conclude that the rigid alpha-helical structure of the polyproline site significantly impairs the functional capacity of truncated dystrophins to maintain appropriate connections between the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix.
Banks, G. B., Judge, L. M., Allen, J. M., & Chamberlain, J. S. (2010). The polyproline site in hinge 2 influences the functional capacity of truncated dystrophins. PLoS Genetics, 6(5), 12. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1000958