The congenital muscular dystrophies (CMDs) are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of muscle disorders. Clinically hypotonia is present from birth, with progressive muscle weakness and wasting through development. For the most part, CMDs can mechanistically be attributed to failure of basement membrane protein laminin-α2 sufficiently binding with correctly glycosylated α-dystroglycan. The majority of CMDs therefore arise as the result of either a deficiency of laminin-α2 (MDC1A) or hypoglycosylation of α-dystroglycan (dystroglycanopathy). Here we consider whether by filling a regenerative medicine niche, the zebrafish model can address the present challenge of delivering novel therapeutic solutions for CMD. In the first instance the readiness and appropriateness of the zebrafish as a model organism for pioneering regenerative medicine therapies in CMD is analysed, in particular for MDC1A and the dystroglycanopathies. Despite the recent rapid progress made in gene editing technology, these approaches have yet to yield any novel zebrafish models of CMD. Currently the most genetically relevant zebrafish models to the field of CMD, have all been created by N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) mutagenesis. Once genetically relevant models have been established the zebrafish has several important facets for investigating the mechanistic cause of CMD, including rapid ex vivo development, optical transparency up to the larval stages of development and relative ease in creating transgenic reporter lines. Together, these tools are well suited for use in live-imaging studies such as in vivo modelling of muscle fibre detachment. Secondly, the zebrafish's contribution to progress in effective treatment of CMD was analysed. Two approaches were identified in which zebrafish could potentially contribute to effective therapies. The first hinges on the augmentation of functional redundancy within the system, such as upregulating alternative laminin chains in the candyfloss fish, a model of MDC1A. Secondly high-throughput small molecule screens not only provide effective therapies, but also an alternative strategy for investigating CMD in zebrafish. In this instance insight into disease mechanism is derived in reverse. Zebrafish models are therefore clearly of critical importance in the advancement of regenerative medicine strategies in CMD. This article is part of a Directed Issue entitled: Regenerative Medicine: The challenge of translation.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2014|