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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a fatal disorder caused by absence of functional dystrophin protein. Compensation in dystrophin-deficient (mdx) mice may be achieved by overexpression of its fetal paralogue, utrophin. Strategies to increase utrophin levels by stimulating promoter activity using small compounds are therefore a promising pharmacological approach. Here, we characterise similarities and differences existing within the mouse and human utrophin locus to assist in high-throughput screening for potential utrophin modulator drugs. We identified five novel 5'-utrophin isoforms (A',B',C,D and F) in adult and embryonic tissue. As the more efficient utrophin-based response in mdx skeletal muscle appears to involve independent transcriptional activation of conserved, myogenic isoforms (A' and F), elevating their paralogues in DMD patients is an encouraging therapeutic strategy.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1856 - 1869


Duchenne muscular dystrophy, therapy, utrophin, Animals, Cell Line, Dystrophin, Mice, Mice, Inbred mdx, Muscle, Skeletal, Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne, Protein Isoforms, Utrophin