Publications by authors named "Sarina Meinen"

10 Publications

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Linker proteins restore basement membrane and correct -related muscular dystrophy in mice.

Sci Transl Med 2017 06;9(396)

Biozentrum, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland.

-related muscular dystrophy ( MD or MDC1A) is the most frequent form of early-onset, fatal congenital muscular dystrophies. It is caused by mutations in , the gene encoding laminin-α2, the long arm of the heterotrimeric (α2, β1, and γ1) basement membrane protein laminin-211 (Lm-211). We establish that despite compensatory expression of laminin-α4, giving rise to Lm-411 (α4, β1, and γ1), muscle basement membrane is labile in MD biopsies. Consistent with this deficit, recombinant Lm-411 polymerized and bound to cultured myotubes only weakly. Polymerization and cell binding of Lm-411 were enhanced by addition of two specifically designed linker proteins. One, called αLNNd, consists of the N-terminal part of laminin-α1 and the laminin-binding site of nidogen-1. The second, called mini-agrin (mag), contains binding sites for laminins and α-dystroglycan. Transgenic expression of mag and αLNNd in a mouse model for MD fully restored basement membrane stability, recovered muscle force and size, increased overall body weight, and extended life span more than five times to a maximum survival beyond 2 years. These findings provide a mechanistic understanding of MD and establish a strong basis for a potential treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aal4649DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744687PMC
June 2017

Improving Reproducibility of Phenotypic Assessments in the DyW Mouse Model of Laminin-α2 Related Congenital Muscular Dystrophy.

J Neuromuscul Dis 2017;4(2):115-126

Department of Pharmacology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV, USA.

Laminin-α2 related Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (LAMA2-CMD) is a progressive muscle disease caused by partial or complete deficiency of laminin-211, a skeletal muscle extracellular matrix protein. In the last decade, basic science research has queried underlying disease mechanisms in existing LAMA2-CMD murine models and identified possible clinical targets and pharmacological interventions. Experimental rigor in preclinical studies is critical to efficiently and accurately quantify both negative and positive results, degree of efficiency of potential therapeutics and determine whether to move a compound forward for additional preclinical testing. In this review, we compare published available data measured to assess three common parameters in the widely used mouse model DyW, that mimics LAMA2-CMD, we quantify variability and analyse its possible sources. Finally, on the basis of this analysis, we suggest standard set of assessments and the use of available standardized protocols, to reduce variability of outcomes in the future and to improve the value of preclinical research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JND-170217DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5467719PMC
July 2019

Chimeric protein repair of laminin polymerization ameliorates muscular dystrophy phenotype.

J Clin Invest 2017 Mar 20;127(3):1075-1089. Epub 2017 Feb 20.

Mutations in laminin α2-subunit (Lmα2, encoded by LAMA2) are linked to approximately 30% of congenital muscular dystrophy cases. Mice with a homozygous mutation in Lama2 (dy2J mice) express a nonpolymerizing form of laminin-211 (Lm211) and are a model for ambulatory-type Lmα2-deficient muscular dystrophy. Here, we developed transgenic dy2J mice with muscle-specific expression of αLNNd, a laminin/nidogen chimeric protein that provides a missing polymerization domain. Muscle-specific expression of αLNNd in dy2J mice resulted in strong amelioration of the dystrophic phenotype, manifested by the prevention of fibrosis and restoration of forelimb grip strength. αLNNd also restored myofiber shape, size, and numbers to control levels in dy2J mice. Laminin immunostaining and quantitation of tissue extractions revealed increased Lm211 expression in αLNNd-transgenic dy2J mice. In cultured myotubes, we determined that αLNNd expression increased myotube surface accumulation of polymerization-deficient recombinant laminins, with retention of collagen IV, reiterating the basement membrane (BM) changes observed in vivo. Laminin LN domain mutations linked to several of the Lmα2-deficient muscular dystrophies are predicted to compromise polymerization. The data herein support the hypothesis that engineered expression of αLNNd can overcome polymerization deficits to increase laminin, stabilize BM structure, and substantially ameliorate muscular dystrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI90854DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5330723PMC
March 2017

Fatigue and muscle atrophy in a mouse model of myasthenia gravis is paralleled by loss of sarcolemmal nNOS.

PLoS One 2012 28;7(8):e44148. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Department of Neurobiology/Pharmacology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) patients suffer from chronic fatigue of skeletal muscles, even after initiation of proper immunosuppressive medication. Since the localization of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) at the muscle membrane is important for sustained muscle contraction, we here study the localization of nNOS in muscles from mice with acetylcholine receptor antibody seropositive (AChR+) experimental autoimmune MG (EAMG). EAMG was induced in 8 week-old male mice by immunization with AChRs purified from torpedo californica. Sham-injected wild type mice and mdx mice, a model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, were used for comparison. At EAMG disease grade 3 (severe myasthenic weakness), the triceps, sternomastoid and masseter muscles were collected for analysis. Unlike in mdx muscles, total nNOS expression as well as the presence of its binding partner syntrophin α-1, were not altered in EAMG. Immunohistological and biochemical analysis showed that nNOS was lost from the muscle membrane and accumulated in the cytosol, which is likely the consequence of blocked neuromuscular transmission. Atrophy of all examined EAMG muscles were supported by up-regulated transcript levels of the atrogenes atrogin-1 and MuRF1, as well as MuRF1 protein, in combination with reduced muscle fiber diameters. We propose that loss of sarcolemmal nNOS provides an additional mechanism for the chronic muscle fatigue and secondary muscle atrophy in EAMG and MG.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0044148PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3429452PMC
February 2013

Angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonists alleviate muscle pathology in the mouse model for laminin-α2-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy (MDC1A).

Skelet Muscle 2012 Sep 3;2(1):18. Epub 2012 Sep 3.

Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Background: Laminin-α2-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy (MDC1A) is a severe muscle-wasting disease for which no curative treatment is available. Antagonists of the angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1), including the anti-hypertensive drug losartan, have been shown to block also the profibrotic action of transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and thereby ameliorate disease progression in mouse models of Marfan syndrome. Because fibrosis and failure of muscle regeneration are the main reasons for the severe disease course of MDC1A, we tested whether L-158809, an analog derivative of losartan, could ameliorate the dystrophy in dyW/dyW mice, the best-characterized model of MDC1A.

Methods: L-158809 was given in food to dyW/dyW mice at the age of 3 weeks, and the mice were analyzed at the age of 6 to 7 weeks. We examined the effect of L-158809 on muscle histology and on muscle regeneration after injury as well as the locomotor activity and muscle strength of the mice.

Results: We found that TGF-β signaling in the muscles of the dyW/dyW mice was strongly increased, and that L-158809 treatment suppressed this signaling. Consequently, L-158809 reduced fibrosis and inflammation in skeletal muscle of dyW/dyW mice, and largely restored muscle regeneration after toxin-induced injury. Mice showed improvement in their locomotor activity and grip strength, and their body weight was significantly increased.

Conclusion: These data provide evidence that AT1 antagonists ameliorate several hallmarks of MDC1A in dyW/dyW mice, the best-characterized mouse model for this disease. Because AT1 antagonists are well tolerated in humans and widely used in clinical practice, these results suggest that losartan may offer a potential future treatment of patients with MDC1A.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2044-5040-2-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3598380PMC
September 2012

Apoptosis inhibitors and mini-agrin have additive benefits in congenital muscular dystrophy mice.

EMBO Mol Med 2011 Aug 15;3(8):465-79. Epub 2011 Jun 15.

Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland.

Mutations in LAMA2 cause a severe form of congenital muscular dystrophy, called MDC1A. Studies in mouse models have shown that transgenic expression of a designed, miniaturized form of the extracellular matrix molecule agrin ('mini-agrin') or apoptosis inhibition by either overexpression of Bcl2 or application of the pharmacological substance omigapil can ameliorate the disease. Here, we tested whether mini-agrin and anti-apoptotic agents act on different pathways and thus exert additive benefits in MDC1A mouse models. By combining mini-agrin with either transgenic Bcl2 expression or oral omigapil application, we show that the ameliorating effect of mini-agrin, which acts by restoring the mechanical stability of muscle fibres and, thereby, reduces muscle fibre breakdown and concomitant fibrosis, is complemented by apoptosis inhibitors, which prevent the loss of muscle fibres. Treatment of mice with both agents results in improved muscle regeneration and increased force. Our results show that the combination of mini-agrin and anti-apoptosis treatment has beneficial effects that are significantly bigger than the individual treatments and suggest that such a strategy might also be applicable to MDC1A patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/emmm.201100151DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3377088PMC
August 2011

Muscle-selective synaptic disassembly and reorganization in MuSK antibody positive MG mice.

Exp Neurol 2011 Aug 30;230(2):207-17. Epub 2011 Apr 30.

Department of Neurobiology/Pharmacology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

MuSK antibody seropositive (MuSK+) Myasthenia Gravis (MG) patients present a distinct selective fatigue, and sometimes atrophy, of bulbar, facial and neck muscles. Here, we study the mechanism underlying the focal muscle involvement in mice with MuSK+ experimental autoimmune MG (EAMG). 8 week-old female wildtype C57BL6 mice and transgenic mice, which express yellow fluorescence protein (YFP) in their motor neurons, were immunized with the extracellular domain of rat MuSK and compared with control mice. The soleus, EDL, sternomastoid, omohyoid, thoracic paraspinal and masseter muscles were examined for pre- and postsynaptic changes with whole mount immunostaining and confocal microscopy. Neuromuscular junction derangement was quantified and compared between muscles and correlated with transcript levels of MuSK and other postsynaptic genes. Correlating with the EAMG disease grade, the postsynaptic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) clusters were severely fragmented with a subsequent reduction also of the presynaptic nerve terminal area. Among the muscles analyzed, the thoracic paraspinal, sternomastoid and masseter muscles were more affected than the leg muscles. The masseter muscle was the most affected, leading to denervation and atrophy and this severity correlated with the lowest levels of MuSK mRNA. On the contrary, the soleus with high MuSK mRNA levels had less postsynaptic perturbation and more terminal nerve sprouting. We propose that low muscle-intrinsic MuSK levels render some muscles, such as the masseter, more vulnerable to the postsynaptic perturbation of MuSK antibodies with subsequent denervation and atrophy. These findings augment our understanding of the sometimes severe, facio-bulbar phenotype of MuSK+ MG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.04.018DOI Listing
August 2011

MuSK levels differ between adult skeletal muscles and influence postsynaptic plasticity.

Eur J Neurosci 2011 Mar 24;33(5):890-8. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

Department of Neurobiology/Pharmacology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) is involved in the formation and maintenance of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), and is necessary for NMJ integrity. As muscle involvement is strikingly selective in pathological conditions in which MuSK is targeted, including congenital myasthenic syndrome with MuSK mutation and MuSK antibody-seropositive myasthenia gravis, we hypothesized that the postsynaptic response to MuSK-agrin signalling differs between adult muscles. Transcript levels of postsynaptic proteins were compared between different muscles in wild-type adult mice. MuSK expression was high in the soleus and sternomastoid muscles and low in the extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and omohyoid muscles. The acetylcholine receptor (AChR) α subunit followed a similar expression pattern, whereas expression of Dok-7, Lrp4 and rapsyn was comparable between the muscles. We subsequently examined muscles in mice that overexpressed a miniaturized form of neural agrin or MuSK. In these transgenic mice, the soleus and sternomastoid muscles responded with formation of ectopic AChR clusters, whereas such clusters were almost absent in the EDL and omohyoid muscles. Electroporation of Dok-7 revealed its important role as an activator of MuSK in AChR cluster formation in adult muscles. Together, our findings indicate for the first time that adult skeletal muscles harbour different endogenous levels of MuSK and that these levels determine the ability to form ectopic AChR clusters upon overexpression of agrin or MuSK. We believe that these findings are important for our understanding of adult muscle plasticity and the selective muscle involvement in neuromuscular disorders in which MuSK is diminished.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2010.07569.xDOI Listing
March 2011

Omigapil ameliorates the pathology of muscle dystrophy caused by laminin-alpha2 deficiency.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2009 Dec 16;331(3):787-95. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

Santhera Pharmaceuticals, Liestal, Switzerland.

Laminin alpha2-deficient congenital muscular dystrophy, called MDC1A, is a rare, devastating genetic disease characterized by severe neonatal hypotonia ("floppy infant syndrome"), peripheral neuropathy, inability to stand or walk, respiratory distress, and premature death in early life. Transgenic overexpression of the apoptosis inhibitor protein BCL-2, or deletion of the proapoptotic Bax gene in a mouse model for MDC1A prolongs survival and mitigates pathology, indicating that apoptotic events are involved in the pathology. Here we demonstrate that the proapoptotic glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH)-Siah1-CBP/p300-p53 pathway is activated in a mouse model for MDC1A. Moreover, we show that omigapil, which inhibits GAPDH-Siah1-mediated apoptosis, ameliorates several pathological hallmarks in the MDC1A mouse model. Specifically, we demonstrate that treatment with omigapil inhibits apoptosis in muscle, reduces body weight loss and skeletal deformation, increases locomotive activity, and protects from early mortality. These data qualify omigapil, which is in late phase of clinical development for human use, as a drug candidate for the treatment of MDC1A.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.109.160754DOI Listing
December 2009

Linker molecules between laminins and dystroglycan ameliorate laminin-alpha2-deficient muscular dystrophy at all disease stages.

J Cell Biol 2007 Mar;176(7):979-93

Biozentrum, University of Basel, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.

Mutations in laminin-alpha2 cause a severe congenital muscular dystrophy, called MDC1A. The two main receptors that interact with laminin-alpha2 are dystroglycan and alpha7beta1 integrin. We have previously shown in mouse models for MDC1A that muscle-specific overexpression of a miniaturized form of agrin (mini-agrin), which binds to dystroglycan but not to alpha7beta1 integrin, substantially ameliorates the disease (Moll, J., P. Barzaghi, S. Lin, G. Bezakova, H. Lochmuller, E. Engvall, U. Muller, and M.A. Ruegg. 2001. Nature. 413:302-307; Bentzinger, C.F., P. Barzaghi, S. Lin, and M.A. Ruegg. 2005. Matrix Biol. 24:326-332.). Now we show that late-onset expression of mini-agrin still prolongs life span and improves overall health, although not to the same extent as early expression. Furthermore, a chimeric protein containing the dystroglycan-binding domain of perlecan has the same activities as mini-agrin in ameliorating the disease. Finally, expression of full-length agrin also slows down the disease. These experiments are conceptual proof that linking the basement membrane to dystroglycan by specifically designed molecules or by endogenous ligands, could be a means to counteract MDC1A at a progressed stage of the disease, and thus opens new possibilities for the development of treatment options for this muscular dystrophy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.200611152DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2064083PMC
March 2007