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Design and methods: A large consanguineous Pakistani family containing six subjects with autosomal recessive complete achromatopsia was ascertained. After excluding linkage to the two known achromatopsia genes (CNGA3 and CNGB3), a genome wide linkage screen was undertaken.
Results: Significant linkage was detected to a 12 cM autozygous segment between markers D1S485 and D1S2881 on chromosome 1p13. Direct sequence analysis of the candidate gene GNAT2 located within this interval identified a frameshift mutation in exon 7 (c842_843insTCAG; M280fsX291) that segregated with the disease.
Conclusions: The GNAT2 gene codes for cone α-transducin, the G protein that couples the cone pigments to cGMP-phosphodiesterase in phototransduction. Although cone α-transducin has a fundamental role in cone phototransduction, mutations in GNAT2 have not been described previously. Since mutations in the CNGA3 gene may cause a variety of retinal dystrophies (complete and incomplete achromatopsia and progressive cone dystrophy), GNAT2 mutations may also prove to be implicated in other forms of retinal dystrophy with cone dysfunction.