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1.  NMNAT1 mutations cause Leber congenital amaurosis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(9):1040-1045.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is an infantile-onset form of inherited retinal degeneration characterized by severe vision loss1, 2. Two-thirds of LCA cases are caused by mutations in 17 known disease genes3 (RetNet Retinal Information Network). Using exome sequencing, we identified a homozygous missense mutation (c.25G>A, p.Val9Met) in NMNAT1 as likely disease-causing in two siblings of a consanguineous Pakistani kindred affected by LCA. This mutation segregated with disease in their kindred, including in three other children with LCA. NMNAT1 resides in the previously identified LCA9 locus and encodes the nuclear isoform of nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase, a rate-limiting enzyme in nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) biosynthesis4, 5. Functional studies showed the p.Val9Met mutation decreased NMNAT1 enzyme activity. Sequencing NMNAT1 in 284 unrelated LCA families identified 14 rare mutations in 13 additional affected individuals. These results are the first to link an NMNAT isoform to disease and indicate that NMNAT1 mutations cause LCA.
PMCID: PMC3454532  PMID: 22842227
2.  Functional characterization of a novel c.614-622del rhodopsin mutation in a French pedigree with retinitis pigmentosa 
Molecular Vision  2012;18:581-587.
To identify and functionally characterize the mutation responsible for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) in a large, six-generation French family.
Twenty individuals from this family participated in the genetic investigation. Six affected and 14 unaffected individuals from three-generations were available for linkage analysis using microsatellite markers flanking the rhodopsin (RHO) gene. A two-point logarithm of odds (LOD) score calculation was undertaken using GENEMARKER and MLINK software. Sanger sequencing of RHO was performed. Cellular localization of the mutant protein was performed by transforming SK-N-SH cells with pEGFP-N1-Rho, pEGFP-N1-Rho(P23H), and pEGFP-N1-Rho(c.614–622del).
The proband had nyctalopia, visual field constriction, peripheral bone spicule pigmentation of the fundus, central acuity (6/24 RE; 6/12 LE) at 55 years of age. Linkage analysis of this family suggested RHO as a possible candidate since the flanking marker D3S1292 yielded a LOD score of 2.43 at θ=0. Cloning of an exon 3 PCR product and direct sequencing of single clones identified a novel deletion in the third exon of RHO, c.614–622del (p.Y206-F208del). The deleted mutant protein localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and formed inclusion bodies.
This novel deletion in exon 3 of the RHO gene, c.614–622del results in a classical form of adRP in a multi-generation French family. Protein expression analyses confirmed that the deletion led to protein misfolding and suggest this is a class II mutation, similar to P23H, the most common class II mutation seen in North America.
PMCID: PMC3298422  PMID: 22419850
3.  Alterations of the 5′Untranslated Region of SLC16A12 Lead to Age-Related Cataract 
The authors identified a new genetic factor, SLC16A12, which encodes a monocarboxylate transporter, as involved in age-related cataract. Sequence alterations in its 5′untranslated region affect translational efficiency, a potential mechanism to challenge homeostasis within the lens.
Knowledge of genetic factors predisposing to age-related cataract is very limited. The aim of this study was to identify DNA sequences that either lead to or predispose for this disease.
The candidate gene SLC16A12, which encodes a solute carrier of the monocarboxylate transporter family, was sequenced in 484 patients with cataract (134 with juvenile cataract, 350 with age-related cataract) and 190 control subjects. Expression studies included luciferase reporter assay and RT-PCR experiments.
One patient with age-related cataract showed a novel heterozygous mutation (c.-17A>G) in the 5′untranslated region (5′UTR). This mutation is in cis with the minor G-allele of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs3740030 (c.-42T/G), also within the 5′UTR. Using a luciferase reporter assay system, a construct with the patient's haplotype caused a significant upregulation of luciferase activity. In comparison, the SNP G-allele alone promoted less activity, but that amount was still significantly higher than the amount of the common T-allele. Analysis of SLC16A12 transcripts in surrogate tissue demonstrated striking allele-specific differences causing 5′UTR heterogeneity with respect to sequence and quantity. These differences in gene expression were mirrored in an allele-specific predisposition to age-related cataract, as determined in a Swiss population (odds ratio approximately 2.2; confidence intervals, 1.23–4.3).
The monocarboxylate transporter SLC16A12 may contribute to age-related cataract. Sequences within the 5′UTR modulate translational efficiency with pathogenic consequences.
PMCID: PMC2904002  PMID: 20181839
4.  A novel 1-bp deletion in PITX3 causing congenital posterior polar cataract 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:1249-1253.
Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide. Inherited cataract is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. Here we report a novel mutation in the paired-like homeodomain 3 (PITX3) gene segregating in a four generation English family with an isolated autosomal dominant posterior polar cataract.
A genome-wide linkage was performed by means of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and microsatellite markers. Linkage analyses were performed with the GeneHunter and MLINK programs. Direct sequencing of PCR products was performed to detect mutation in the gene, using the BigDye version 3.1 and analyzed using Sequence analysis version 5.2.
Genome-wide linkage analysis with SNP markers, identified a disease-haplotype interval on chromosome 10q. Two point positive logarithm of odds (LOD) scores was obtained with markers D10S205 (Z=3.10 at θ=0.00), flanked by markers D10S1709 and D10S543, which harbors the homeobox gene PITX3. Sequence analysis of PITX3 revealed a 1-bp deletion that cosegregated with all the affected members of this family which resulted in a frameshift in codon 181 and likely to produce an aberrant protein consisting of 127 additional residues.
The 542delC is a novel mutation in PITX3 causing an isolated posterior polar cataract.
PMCID: PMC3103741  PMID: 21633712
5.  RDH12 retinopathy: novel mutations and phenotypic description 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:2706-2716.
To identify patients with autosomal recessive retinal dystrophy caused by mutations in the gene, retinal dehydrogenase 12 (RDH12), and to report the associated phenotype.
After giving informed consent, all patients underwent full clinical evaluation. Patients were selected for mutation analysis based upon positive results from the Asper Ophthalmics Leber congenital amaurosis arrayed primer extansion (APEX) microarray screening, linkage analysis, or their clinical phenotype. All coding exons of RDH12 were screened by direct Sanger sequencing. Potential variants were checked for segregation in the respective families and screened in controls, and their pathogenicity analyzed using in silico prediction programs.
Screening of 389 probands by the APEX microarray and/or direct sequencing identified bi-allelic mutations in 29 families. Seventeen novel mutations were identified. The phenotype in these patients presented with a severe early-onset rod-cone dystrophy. Funduscopy showed severe generalized retinal pigment epithelial and retinal atrophy, which progressed to dense, widespread intraretinal pigment migration by adulthood. The macula showed severe atrophy, with pigmentation and yellowing, and corresponding loss of fundus autofluorescence. Optical coherence tomography revealed marked retinal thinning and excavation at the macula.
RDH12 mutations account for approximately 7% of disease in our cohort of patients diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis and early-onset retinal dystrophy. The clinical features of this disorder are highly characteristic and facilitate candidate gene screening. The term RDH12 retinopathy is proposed as a more accurate description.
PMCID: PMC3209419  PMID: 22065924
6.  Prevalence and novelty of PRPF31 mutations in French autosomal dominant rod-cone dystrophy patients and a review of published reports 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:145.
Rod-cone dystrophies are heterogeneous group of inherited retinal disorders both clinically and genetically characterized by photoreceptor degeneration. The mode of inheritance can be autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive or X-linked. The purpose of this study was to identify mutations in one of the genes, PRPF31, in French patients with autosomal dominant RP, to perform genotype-phenotype correlations of those patients, to determine the prevalence of PRPF31 mutations in this cohort and to review previously identified PRPF31 mutations from other cohorts.
Detailed phenotypic characterization was performed including precise family history, best corrected visual acuity using the ETDRS chart, slit lamp examination, kinetic and static perimetry, full field and multifocal ERG, fundus autofluorescence imaging and optic coherence tomography. For genetic diagnosis, genomic DNA of ninety families was isolated by standard methods. The coding exons and flanking intronic regions of PRPF31 were PCR amplified, purified and sequenced in the index patient.
We showed for the first time that 6.7% cases of a French adRP cohort have a PRPF31 mutation. We identified in total six mutations, which were all novel and not detected in ethnically matched controls. The mutation spectrum from our cohort comprises frameshift and splice site mutations. Co-segregation analysis in available family members revealed that each index patient and all affected family members showed a heterozygous mutation. In five families incomplete penetrance was observed. Most patients showed classical signs of RP with relatively preserved central vision and visual field.
Our studies extended the mutation spectrum of PRPF31 and as previously reported in other populations, it is a major cause of adRP in France.
PMCID: PMC2984399  PMID: 20939871
7.  Novel mutations in MERTK associated with childhood onset rod-cone dystrophy 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:369-377.
To report the clinical phenotype in patients with a retinal dystrophy associated with novel mutations in the MER tyrosine kinase (MERTK) gene.
A consanguineous family of Middle Eastern origin was identified, and affected members underwent a full clinical evaluation. Linkage analysis was performed using the Affymetrix 50K chip. Regions of homozygosity were identified. The positional candidate genes protocadherin 21 (PCDH21), retinal G protein-coupled receptor (RGR), and MERTK were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified and sequenced. Long-range PCR was performed to characterize the deletion. Two hundred and ninety-two probands with autosomal recessive, childhood onset, retinal dystrophies were analyzed using the Asper Ophthalmics Leber congenital amaurosis chip to screen for known MERTK mutations.
Analysis of a 50K-Affymetrix whole genome scan identified three regions of homozygosity on chromosomes 2 and 10. Screening of the candidate gene MERTK showed a possible deletion of exon 8. Long-range PCR identified a ~9 kb deletion within MERTK that removes exon 8. Screening of DNA from a panel of Saudi Arabian patients with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa identified a second consanguineous family with the same mutation. One patient with a known MERTK mutation (p.R651X) was identified using the Asper Ophthalmics Leber congenital amaurosis chip. Further screening of the gene identified a second novel splice site mutation in intron 1. The phenotype associated with these identified MERTK mutations is of a childhood onset rod–cone dystrophy with early macular atrophy. The optical coherence tomography (OCT) appearance is distinctive with evidence of debris beneath the sensory retina.
Mutations in MERTK are a rare cause of retinal dystrophy. Non homologous recombination between Alu Y repeats near or within disease genes may be an important cause of retinal dystrophies.
PMCID: PMC2838735  PMID: 20300561
8.  A common allele in RPGRIP1L is a modifier of retinal degeneration in ciliopathies 
Nature genetics  2009;41(6):739-745.
Despite rapid advances in disease gene identification, the predictive power of the genotype remains limited, in part due to poorly understood effects of second-site modifiers. Here we demonstrate that a polymorphic coding variant of RPGRIP1L (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator-interacting protein-1 like), a ciliary gene mutated in Meckel-Gruber (MKS) and Joubert (JBTS) syndromes, is associated with the development of retinal degeneration in patients with ciliopathies caused by mutations in other genes. As part of our resequencing efforts of the ciliary proteome, we identified several putative loss of function RPGRIP1L mutations, including one common variant, A229T. Multiple genetic lines of evidence showed this allele to be associated with photoreceptor loss in ciliopathies. Moreover, we show that RPGRIP1L interacts biochemically with RPGR, loss of which causes retinal degeneration, and that the 229T-encoded protein significantly compromises this interaction. Our data represent an example of modification of a discrete phenotype of syndromic disease and highlight the importance of a multifaceted approach for the discovery of modifier alleles of intermediate frequency and effect.
PMCID: PMC2783476  PMID: 19430481

Results 1-8 (8)