COUP-TFII regulates satellite cell function and muscular dystrophy

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Abstract

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe and progressive muscle-wasting disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Although dystrophin deficiency in myofiber triggers the disease’s pathological changes, the degree of satellite cell (SC) dysfunction defines disease progression. Here, we have identified chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter–transcription factor II (COUP-TFII) hyperactivity as a contributing factor underlying muscular dystrophy in a dystrophin-deficient murine model of DMD. Ectopic expression of COUP-TFII in murine SCs led to Duchenne-like dystrophy in the muscles of control animals and exacerbated degenerative myopathies in dystrophin-deficient mice. COUP-TFII–overexpressing mice exhibited regenerative failure that was attributed to deficient SC proliferation and myoblast fusion. Mechanistically, we determined that COUP-TFII coordinated a regenerative program through combined regulation of multiple promyogenic factors. Furthermore, inhibition of COUP-TFII preserved SC function and counteracted the muscle weakness associated with Duchenne-like dystrophy in the murine model, suggesting that targeting COUP-TFII is a potential treatment for DMD. Together, our findings reveal a regulatory role of COUP-TFII in the development of muscular dystrophy and open up a potential therapeutic opportunity for managing disease progression in patients with DMD.

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