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This content will become publicly available on October 10, 2014

Title: Modifications to toxic CUG RNAs induce structural stability, rescue mis-splicing in a myotonic dystrophy cell model and reduce toxicity in a myotonic dystrophy zebrafish model

In this study, CUG repeat expansions in the 3' UTR of dystrophia myotonica protein kinase (DMPK) cause myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). As RNA, these repeats elicit toxicity by sequestering splicing proteins, such as MBNL1, into protein–RNA aggregates. Structural studies demonstrate that CUG repeats can form A-form helices, suggesting that repeat secondary structure could be important in pathogenicity. To evaluate this hypothesis, we utilized structure-stabilizing RNA modifications pseudouridine (Ψ) and 2'-O-methylation to determine if stabilization of CUG helical conformations affected toxicity. CUG repeats modified with Ψ or 2'-O-methyl groups exhibited enhanced structural stability and reduced affinity for MBNL1. Molecular dynamics and X-ray crystallography suggest a potential water-bridging mechanism for Ψ-mediated CUG repeat stabilization. Ψ modification of CUG repeats rescued mis-splicing in a DM1 cell model and prevented CUG repeat toxicity in zebrafish embryos. This study indicates that the structure of toxic RNAs has a significant role in controlling the onset of neuromuscular diseases.
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  1. Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR (United States)
  2. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 42; Journal Issue: 20; Journal ID: ISSN 0305-1048
Oxford University Press
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States