Charvet, B., Guiraud, A., Malbouyres, M., Zwolanek, D., Guillon, E., Bretaud, S., Monnot, C., Schulze, J., Bader, H.L., Allard, B., Koch, M., and Ruggiero, F. (2013) Knockdown of col22a1 gene in zebrafish induces a muscular dystrophy by disruption of the myotendinous junction. Development (Cambridge, England). 140(22):4602-4613.
The myotendinous junction (MTJ) is the major site of force transfer in skeletal muscle, and defects in its structure correlate
with a subset of muscular dystrophies. Col22a1 encodes the MTJ component collagen XXII, the function of which remains unknown. Here, we have cloned and characterized the
zebrafish col22a1 gene and conducted morpholino-based loss-of-function studies in developing embryos. We showed that col22a1 transcripts localize at muscle ends when the MTJ forms and that COLXXII protein integrates the junctional extracellular matrix.
Knockdown of COLXXII expression resulted in muscular dystrophy-like phenotype, including swimming impairment, curvature of
embryo trunk/tail, strong reduction of twitch-contraction amplitude and contraction-induced muscle fiber detachment, and provoked
significant activation of the survival factor Akt. Electron microscopy and immunofluorescence studies revealed that absence
of COLXXII caused a strong reduction of MTJ folds and defects in myoseptal structure. These defects resulted in reduced contractile
force and susceptibility of junctional extracellular matrix to rupture when subjected to repeated mechanical stress. Co-injection
of sub-phenotypic doses of morpholinos against col22a1 and genes of the major muscle linkage systems showed a synergistic gene interaction between col22a1 and itga7 (α7β1 integrin) that was not observed with dag1 (dystroglycan). Finally, pertinent to a conserved role in humans, the dystrophic phenotype was rescued by microinjection
of recombinant human COLXXII. Our findings indicate that COLXXII contributes to the stabilization of myotendinous junctions
and strengthens skeletal muscle attachments during contractile activity.