To investigate mechanisms in the pathogenesis of cardiomyopathy associated with mutations of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex, we analyzed genetically engineered mice deficient for either alpha-sarcoglycan (Sgca) or delta-sarcoglycan (Sgcd). We found that only Sgcd null mice developed cardiomyopathy with focal areas of necrosis as the histological hallmark in cardiac and skeletal muscle. Absence of the sarcoglycan-sarcospan (SG-SSPN) complex in skeletal and cardiac membranes was observed in both animal models. Loss of vascular smooth muscle SG-SSPN complex was only detected in Sgcd null mice and associated with irregularities of the coronary vasculature. Administration of a vascular smooth muscle relaxant prevented onset of myocardial necrosis. Our data indicate that disruption of the SG-SSPN complex in vascular smooth muscle perturbs vascular function, which initiates cardiomyopathy and exacerbates muscular dystrophy.
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