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Open Access Research article

Somatic CTG•CAG repeat instability in a mouse model for myotonic dystrophy type 1 is associated with changes in cell nuclearity and DNA ploidy

Walther JAA van den Broek, Derick G Wansink and Bé Wieringa*

Author Affiliations

Department of Cell Biology, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-61

Published: 23 July 2007



Trinucleotide instability is a hallmark of degenerative neurological diseases like Huntington's disease, some forms of spinocerebellar ataxia and myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). To investigate the effect of cell type and cell state on the behavior of the DM1 CTG•CAG repeat, we studied a knock-in mouse model for DM1 at different time points during ageing and followed how repeat fate in cells from liver and pancreas is associated with polyploidization and changes in nuclearity after the onset of terminal differentiation.


After separation of liver hepatocytes and pancreatic acinar cells in pools with 2n, 4n or 8n DNA, we analyzed CTG•CAG repeat length variation by resolving PCR products on an automated PAGE system. We observed that somatic CTG•CAG repeat expansion in our DM1 mouse model occurred almost uniquely in the fraction of cells with high cell nuclearity and DNA ploidy and aggravated with aging.


Our findings suggest that post-replicative and terminal-differentiation events, coupled to changes in cellular DNA content, form a preconditional state that influences the control of DNA repair or recombination events involved in trinucleotide expansion in liver hepatocytes and pancreatic acinar cells.