Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness and is the leading genetic cause of infant mortality worldwide. SMA is caused by the loss of survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1). In humans, a nearly identical copy gene is present, called SMN2. Although SMN2 maintains the same coding sequence, this gene cannot compensate for the loss of SMN1 because of a single silent nucleotide difference in SMN2 exon 7. SMN2 primarily produces an alternatively spliced isoform lacking exon 7, which is critical for protein function. SMN2 is an important disease modifier that makes for an excellent target for therapeutic intervention because all SMA patients retain SMN2. Therefore, compounds and small molecules that can increase SMN2 exon 7 inclusion, transcription and SMN protein stability have great potential for SMA therapeutics. Previously, we performed a high throughput screen and established a class of compounds that increase SMN protein in various cellular contexts. In this study, a novel compound was identified that increased SMN protein levels in vivo and ameliorated the disease phenotype in severe and intermediate mouse models of SMA.
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