Efficient sarcolemmal repair is required for muscle cell survival, with deficits in this process leading to muscle degeneration. Lack of the sarcolemmal protein dysferlin impairs sarcolemmal repair by reducing secretion of the enzyme acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), and causes limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2B (LGMD2B). The large size of the dysferlin gene poses a challenge for LGMD2B gene therapy efforts aimed at restoring dysferlin expression in skeletal muscle fibers. Here, we present an alternative gene therapy approach targeting reduced ASM secretion, the consequence of dysferlin deficit. We showed that the bulk endocytic ability is compromised in LGMD2B patient cells, which was addressed by extracellularly treating cells with ASM. Expression of secreted human ASM (hASM) using a liver-specific adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector restored membrane repair capacity of patient cells to healthy levels. A single in vivo dose of hASM-AAV in the LGMD2B mouse model restored myofiber repair capacity, enabling efficient recovery of myofibers from focal or lengthening contraction–induced injury. hASM-AAV treatment was safe, attenuated fibro-fatty muscle degeneration, increased myofiber size, and restored muscle strength, similar to dysferlin gene therapy. These findings elucidate the role of ASM in dysferlin-mediated plasma membrane repair and to our knowledge offer the first non–muscle-targeted gene therapy for LGMD2B.
Daniel C. Bittel, Sen Chandra Sreetama, Goutam Chandra, Robin Ziegler, Kanneboyina Nagaraju, Jack H. Van der Meulen, Jyoti K. Jaiswal
hASM activates endocytosis via the CLIC/GEEC pathway.