A new mouse model of Fukuyama's muscular dystrophy developed by researchers copies the pathology seen in the human form of the disease.
By removing the gene fukutin from mouse embryos at various points during development, researchers led by Kevin Campbell were able to determine that fukutin disrupts important modifications of dystrophin that prevent the muscle cells from attaching to the ECM. Disruption of the gene earlier in development led to a more severe form of the disease, suggesting that fukutin is important for muscle maturation. Disruptions in later stages of development caused a less severe form of the disease. In a companion piece, Elizabeth McNally of the University of Chicago discusses the implications of this disease model for the development of new therapies to treat muscular dystrophy.