UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology; Peter Jones Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Cell Biology | Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities | Developmental Biology | Developmental Neuroscience | Genetic Phenomena | Musculoskeletal Diseases | Nervous System Diseases


The Double homeobox 4 (DUX4) gene is an important regulator of early human development and its aberrant expression is causal for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). The DUX4-full length (DUX4-fl) mRNA splice isoform encodes a transcriptional activator; however, DUX4 and its unique DNA binding preferences are specific to old-world primates. Regardless, the somatic cytotoxicity caused by DUX4 expression is conserved when expressed in cells and animals ranging from fly to mouse. Thus, viable animal models based on DUX4-fl expression have been difficult to generate due in large part to overt developmental toxicity of low DUX4-fl expression from leaky transgenes. We have overcome this obstacle and here we report the generation and initial characterization of a line of conditional floxed DUX4-fl transgenic mice, FLExDUX4, that is viable and fertile. In the absence of cre, these mice express a very low level of DUX4-fl mRNA from the transgene, resulting in mild phenotypes. However, when crossed with appropriate cre-driver lines of mice, the double transgenic offspring readily express DUX4-fl mRNA, protein, and target genes with the spatiotemporal pattern of nuclear cre expression dictated by the chosen system. When cre is expressed from the ACTA1 skeletal muscle-specific promoter, the double transgenic animals exhibit a developmental myopathy. When crossed with tamoxifen-inducible cre lines, DUX4-mediated pathology can be induced in adult animals. Thus, the appearance and progression of pathology can be controlled to provide readily screenable phenotypes useful for assessing therapeutic approaches targeting DUX4-fl mRNA and protein. Overall, the FLExDUX4 line of mice is quite versatile and will allow new investigations into mechanisms of DUX4-mediated pathophysiology as well as much-needed pre-clinical testing of DUX4-targeted FSHD interventions in vivo.

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Copyright: © 2018 Jones, Jones. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS One. 2018 Feb 7;13(2):e0192657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192657. eCollection 2018. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS one

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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