Research ArticleHutchinson-Gilford Progeria

Splicing-Directed Therapy in a New Mouse Model of Human Accelerated Aging

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Science Translational Medicine  26 Oct 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 106, pp. 106ra107
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002847

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Countering Careless Cutting

Carpenters warn that one should “measure twice, cut once” to avoid unfixable assaults on building materials. Indeed, careless cutting lies at the heart of Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS). This premature aging disease is caused by a point mutation in the LMNA gene that activates a cryptic donor splice site in LMNA RNA; aberrant cutting and splicing results in the production of an mRNA that encodes progerin, a truncated form of the lamin A protein that is also produced in small amounts during normal aging. Until now, no model system has recapitulated the pathogenic LMNA splicing that occurs in HGPS patients. Here, Osorio et al. characterize such HGPS mutant mice mimics—called LmnaG609G/G609G mice—and show that antisense oligonucleotide–based therapy reverses various premature aging phenotypes and extends life span.

Encoded by the LMNA gene, lamin A is a nuclear envelope protein that is important for nuclear stability, chromatin structure, and regulation of gene expression. Osorio et al. showed that the LmnaG609G/G609G mice produced reduced amounts of intact lamin A, accumulated progerin, displayed the nuclear abnormalities and transcriptional alterations seen in other progeroid models, and sported the key clinical features of human HGPS, such as a shortened life span, reduced size, disrupted metabolism, and enhanced bone and cardiovascular maladies relative to wild-type animals. The authors then used their newly characterized HGPS animal model to test the effects of antisense morpholino oligonucleotides that bound to and blocked the aberrant splice donor site in Lmna RNA. These reagents reduced progerin accumulation and corrected the nuclear abnormalities in both cultured mutant mouse and human HGPS fibroblasts. Furthermore, LmnaG609G/G609G mice that were treated with a combination of two antisense oligonucleotides that blocked aberrant splicing displayed reduced amounts of accumulated progerin, enhanced life expectancy, and a reversal of the phenotypical and molecular alterations associated with HGPS, including the righting of gene expression aberrations and normalization of blood glucose levels. Together, these findings provide preclinical proof of concept for the use of antisense oligonucleotide–based therapies in the treatment of HGPS. Furthermore, because progerin also accumulates during normal aging, the LmnaG609G/G609G mutant mice may be useful for preclinical testing of therapies designed to slow the human aging process and prevent age-related diseases. As the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, “All diseases run into one—old age.”


  • * Present address: Instituto de Medicina Oncológica y Molecular de Asturias, Centro Médico de Asturias, 33193 Oviedo, Spain.