Title

ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc alleviates muscle dysfunction and comorbidities in murine models of neuromuscular disorders

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Patients with neuromuscular disorders suffer from a lack of treatment options for skeletal muscle weakness and disease comorbidities. Here, we introduce as a potential therapeutic agent a heterodimeric ligand-trapping fusion protein, ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc, which comprises extracellular domains of activin-like kinase 4 (ALK4) and activin receptor type IIB (ActRIIB), a naturally occurring pair of type I and II receptors belonging to the TGF-β superfamily. By surface plasmon resonance (SPR), ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc exhibited a ligand binding profile distinctly different from that of its homodimeric variant ActRIIB-Fc, sequestering ActRIIB ligands known to inhibit muscle growth but not trapping the vascular regulatory ligand bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9). ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc and ActRIIB-Fc administered to mice exerted differential effects - concordant with SPR results - on vessel outgrowth in a retinal explant assay. ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc induced a systemic increase in muscle mass and function in wild-type mice and in murine models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and disuse atrophy. Importantly, ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc improved neuromuscular junction abnormalities in murine models of DMD and presymptomatic ALS and alleviated acute muscle fibrosis in a DMD model. Furthermore, in combination therapy ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc increased the efficacy of antisense oligonucleotide M12-PMO on dystrophin expression and skeletal muscle endurance in an aged DMD model. ActRIIB:ALK4-Fc shows promise as a therapeutic agent, alone or in combination with dystrophin rescue therapy, to alleviate muscle weakness and comorbidities of neuromuscular disorders.

Publication Date

2-15-2021

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Investigation

ISSN

00219738

E-ISSN

15588238

Volume

131

Issue

4

PubMed ID

33586684

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1172/JCI138634

https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI138634

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