WDR5 is required for DUX4 expression and its pathological effects in FSHD muscular dystrophy


Emanuele Mocciaro, Roberto Giambruno, Stefano Micheloni, Filippo M Cernilogar, Annapaola Andolfo, Cristina Consonni, Maria Pannese, Giulia Ferri, Valeria Runfola, Gunnar Schotta, Davide Gabellini, WDR5 is required for DUX4 expression and its pathological effects in FSHD muscular dystrophy, Nucleic Acids Research, 2023;, gkad230,

Published: 06 April 2023

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Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is one of the most prevalent neuromuscular disorders. The disease is linked to copy number reduction and/or epigenetic alterations of the D4Z4 macrosatellite on chromosome 4q35 and associated with aberrant gain of expression of the transcription factor DUX4, which triggers a pro-apoptotic transcriptional program leading to muscle wasting. As today, no cure or therapeutic option is available to FSHD patients. Given its centrality in FSHD, blocking DUX4 expression with small molecule drugs is an attractive option. We previously showed that the long non protein-coding RNA DBE-T is required for aberrant DUX4 expression in FSHD. Using affinity purification followed by proteomics, here we identified the chromatin remodeling protein WDR5 as a novel DBE-T interactor and a key player required for the biological activity of the lncRNA. We found that WDR5 is required for the expression of DUX4 and its targets in primary FSHD muscle cells. Moreover, targeting WDR5 rescues both cell viability and myogenic differentiation of FSHD patient cells. Notably, comparable results were obtained by pharmacological inhibition of WDR5. Importantly, WDR5 targeting was safe to healthy donor muscle cells. Our results support a pivotal role of WDR5 in the activation of DUX4 expression identifying a druggable target for an innovative therapeutic approach for FSHD.

Subject Protein-nucleic acid interaction

Issue Section: RNA and RNA-protein complexes


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