Combined deficiency of alpha and epsilon sarcoglycan disrupts the cardiac dystrophin complex

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Cardiomyopathy is a puzzling complication in addition to skeletal muscle pathology for patients with mutations in β-, γ- or δ-sarcoglycan (SG) genes. Patients with mutations in α-SG rarely have associated cardiomyopathy, or their cardiac pathology is very mild. We hypothesize that a fifth SG, [Latin Small Letter Open E]-SG, may compensate for α-SG deficiency in the heart. To investigate the function of [Latin Small Letter Open E]-SG in striated muscle, we generated an Sgce-null mouse and a Sgca-;Sgce-null mouse, which lacks both α- and [Latin Small Letter Open E]-SGs. While Sgce-null mice showed a wild-type phenotype, with no signs of muscular dystrophy or heart disease, the Sgca-;Sgce-null mouse developed a progressive muscular dystrophy and a more anticipated and severe cardiomyopathy. It shows a complete loss of residual SGs and a strong reduction in both dystrophin and dystroglycan. Our data indicate that [Latin Small Letter Open E]-SG is important in preventing cardiomyopathy in α-SG deficiency.

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