Deciphering the mechanisms underlying brain alterations and cognitive impairment in congenital myotonic dystrophy.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Neurobiol Dis, Volume 160, p.105532 (2021)


Animals, Brain, Cognitive Dysfunction, Humans, Myotonic Dystrophy


<p>Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is a multisystemic and heterogeneous disorder caused by the expansion of CTG repeats in the 3' UTR of the myotonic dystrophy protein kinase (DMPK) gene. There is a congenital form (CDM1) of the disease characterized by severe hypotonia, respiratory insufficiency as well as developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. CDM1 infants manifest important brain structure abnormalities present from birth while, in contrast, older patients with adult-onset DM1 often present neurodegenerative features and milder progressive cognitive deficits. Promising therapies targeting central molecular mechanisms contributing to the symptoms of adult-onset DM1 are currently in development, but their relevance for treating cognitive impairment in CDM1, which seems to be a partially distinct neurodevelopmental disorder, remain to be elucidated. Here, we provide an update on the clinical presentation of CDM1 and review recent in vitro and in vivo models that have provided meaningful insights on its consequences in development, with a particular focus on the brain. We discuss how enhanced toxic gain-of-function of the mutated DMPK transcripts with larger CUG repeats and the resulting dysregulation of RNA-binding proteins may affect the developing cortex in utero. Because the methylation of CpG islets flanking the trinucleotide repeats has emerged as a strong biomarker of CDM1, we highlight the need to investigate the tissue-specific impacts of these chromatin modifications in the brain. Finally, we outline promising potential therapeutic treatments for CDM1 and propose future in vitro and in vivo models with great potential to shed light on this disease.</p>

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