Ret function in muscle stem cells points to tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.7554/elife.11405
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) involves sporadic expression of DUX4, which inhibits myogenesis and is pro-apoptotic. To identify target genes, we over-expressed DUX4 in myoblasts and found that the receptor tyrosine kinase Ret was significantly up-regulated, suggesting a role in FSHD. RET is dynamically expressed during myogenic progression in mouse and human myoblasts. Constitutive expression of either RET9 or RET51 increased myoblast proliferation, whereas siRNA-mediated knockdown of Ret induced myogenic differentiation. Suppressing RET activity using Sunitinib, a clinically-approved tyrosine kinase inhibitor, rescued differentiation in both DUX4-expressing murine myoblasts and in FSHD patient-derived myoblasts. Importantly, Sunitinib also increased engraftment and differentiation of FSHD myoblasts in regenerating mouse muscle. Thus, DUX4-mediated activation of Ret prevents myogenic differentiation and could contribute to FSHD pathology by preventing satellite cell-mediated repair. Rescue of DUX4-induced pathology by Sunitinib highlights the therapeutic potential of tyrosine kinase inhibitors for treatment of FSHD.