DDX6 regulates sequestered nuclear CUG-expanded DMPK-mRNA in dystrophia myotonica type 1

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Abstract

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by CUG triplet expansions in the 3′ UTR of dystrophia myotonica protein kinase (DMPK) messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). The etiology of this multi-systemic disease involves pre-mRNA splicing defects elicited by the ability of the CUG-expanded mRNA to ‘sponge’ splicing factors of the muscleblind family. Although nuclear aggregation of CUG-containing mRNPs in distinct foci is a hallmark of DM1, the mechanisms of their homeostasis have not been completely elucidated. Here we show that a DEAD-box helicase, DDX6, interacts with CUG triplet-repeat mRNA in primary fibroblasts from DM1 patients and with CUG–RNAin vitro. DDX6 overexpression relieves DM1 mis-splicing, and causes a significant reduction in nuclear DMPK-mRNA foci. Conversely, knockdown of endogenous DDX6 leads to a significant increase in DMPK-mRNA foci count and to increased sequestration of MBNL1 in the nucleus. While the level of CUG-expanded mRNA is unaffected by increased DDX6 expression, the mRNA re-localizes to the cytoplasm and its interaction partner MBNL1 becomes dispersed and also partially re-localized to the cytoplasm. Finally, we show that DDX6 unwinds CUG-repeat duplexesin vitroin an adenosinetriphosphate-dependent manner, suggesting that DDX6 can remodel and release nuclear DMPK messenger ribonucleoprotein foci, leading to normalization of pathogenic alternative splicing events.

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