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1.  Genotype-Dependent Variability in Residual Cone Structure in Achromatopsia: Toward Developing Metrics for Assessing Cone Health 
Gene therapy trials for inherited photoreceptor disorders are planned. Anatomical metrics to select the best candidates and outcomes are needed. Adaptive optics (AO) imaging enables visualization of photoreceptor structure, although analytical tools are lacking. Here we present criteria to assess residual photoreceptor integrity in achromatopsia (ACHM).
Two AOSLOs, at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Moorfields Eye Hospital, were used to image the photoreceptor mosaic of 11 subjects with ACHM and 7 age-matched controls. Images were obtained, processed, and montaged using previously described methods. Cone density and reflectivity were quantified to assess residual cone photoreceptor structure.
All subjects with ACHM had reduced numbers of cone photoreceptors, albeit to a variable degree. In addition, the relative cone reflectivity varied greatly. Interestingly, subjects with GNAT2-associated ACHM had the greatest number of residual cones and the reflectivity of those cones was significantly greater than that of the cones in the subjects with CNGA3/CNGB3-associated ACHM.
We present cone reflectivity as a metric that can be used to characterize cone structure in ACHM. This method may be applicable to subjects with other cone disorders. In ACHM, we hypothesize that cone numerosity (and/or density) combined with cone reflectivity could be used to gauge the therapeutic potential. As gene replacement would not be expected to add cones, reflectivity could be a more powerful AO-metric for monitoring the cellular response to treatment and could provide a more immediate indicator of efficacy than behavioral measures, which may take longer to change.
We present cone reflectivity as a metric that can be used to characterize residual cone structure in ACHM. This method may be applicable to subjects with other cone disorders.
PMCID: PMC4235328  PMID: 25277229
cones; image analysis; genetic diseases
3.  Dark-Adaptation Functions in Molecularly Confirmed Achromatopsia and the Implications for Assessment in Retinal Therapy Trials 
To describe the dark-adaptation (DA) functions in subjects with molecularly proven achromatopsia (ACHM) using refined testing conditions with a view to guiding assessment in forthcoming gene therapy trials.
The DA functions of nine subjects with ACHM were measured and compared with those of normal observers. The size and retinal location of the stimuli used to measure DA sensitivities were varied in four distinct testing condition sets, and the effect of altering these parameters assessed.
In three of the four testing condition sets, achromats had significantly higher mean final thresholds than normal observers, whereas in the fourth condition set they did not. A larger, more central stimulus revealed the greatest difference between the final DA thresholds of achromat and normal subjects, and also demonstrated the slowest rate of recovery among the achromat group.
In this, the largest study of DA functions in molecularly proven ACHM to date, we have identified optimal testing conditions that accentuate the relative difference between achromats and normal observers. These findings can help optimize DA testing in future trials, as well as help resolve the dichotomy in the literature regarding the normality or otherwise of DA functions in ACHM. Furthermore, the shorter testing time and less intense adaptation light used in these experiments may prove advantageous for more readily and reliably probing scotopic function in retinal disease, and be particularly valuable in the frequent post therapeutic assessments required in the context of the marked photophobia in ACHM.
Dark adaptation in molecularly confirmed achromatopsia is explored in the context of previous dichotomies, as well as testing conditions used that may be more amenable to future gene therapy trials.
PMCID: PMC4193759  PMID: 25168900
achromatopsia; dark adaptation; gene therapy; rod monochromatism; rod vision
4.  Clinical characteristics of early retinal disease due to CDHR1 mutation 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:2250-2259.
To describe the early clinical and electrophysiological features of cone-rod dystrophy due to a mutation of cadherin-related family member 1 (CDHR1).
Three affected siblings from a consanguineous family were ascertained. The clinical data included retinal examination, Goldmann visual fields, fundus autofluorescence imaging, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and pattern and full-field electroretinograms. Exome sequencing was performed in two siblings.
The three siblings presented at age 24, 18, and 16 years, respectively. Their main symptoms were blurred central vision, dyschromatopsia, and photoaversion. All were myopic with best-corrected visual acuities of 20/60, 20/60, and 20/40, respectively. Fundoscopy revealed a range of macular appearances from mild retinal pigment epithelial changes to symmetric, subfoveal pigmented lesions. Fundus autofluorescence imaging and OCT revealed evidence of mild structural abnormalities in the two older siblings. Electroretinography findings in all three patients indicated severe generalized cone-rod dysfunction. Mutational screening in the three siblings showed them to be homozygous for a previously reported frame-shifting mutation in exon 13 of CDHR1, c.1463delG, p.G488fs.
The initial clinical signs in this specific retinopathy may be relatively subtle despite a significant functional deficit, with unusual, bilateral, subfoveal pigmented lesions in one 16-year-old patient. Lack of CDHR1 in the human retina causes symptoms related to cone photoreceptor dysfunction in the first instance. A near-normal retinal structure, at least in the first two decades, suggests that CDHR1-related retinopathy may be a good candidate for gene replacement or other novel stabilizing treatments.
PMCID: PMC3834600  PMID: 24265541
5.  A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Retinal Structure and Function in Achromatopsia 
To longitudinally characterize retinal structure and function in achromatopsia (ACHM) in preparation for clinical gene therapy trials.
Thirty-eight molecularly confirmed ACHM subjects underwent serial assessments, including spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), microperimetry, and fundus autofluorescence (FAF). Foveal structure on SD-OCT was graded and compared for evidence of progression, along with serial measurements of foveal total retinal thickness (FTRT) and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness. Fundus autofluorescence patterns were characterized and compared over time.
Mean follow-up was 19.5 months (age range at baseline, 6–52 years). Only 2 (5%) of 37 subjects demonstrated change in serial foveal SD-OCT scans. There was no statistically significant change over time in FTRT (P = 0.83), ONL thickness (P = 0.27), hyporeflective zone diameter (P = 0.42), visual acuity (P = 0.89), contrast sensitivity (P = 0.22), mean retinal sensitivity (P = 0.84), and fixation stability (P = 0.58). Three distinct FAF patterns were observed (n = 30): central increased FAF (n = 4), normal FAF (n = 11), and well-demarcated reduced FAF (n = 15); with the latter group displaying a slow increase in the area of reduced FAF of 0.03 mm2 over 19.3 months (P = 0.002).
Previously published cross-sectional studies have described conflicting findings with respect to the age-dependency of progression. This study, which constitutes the largest and longest prospective longitudinal study of ACHM to date, suggests that although ACHM may be progressive, any such progression is slow and subtle in most patients, and does not correlate with age or genotype. We also describe the first serial assessment of FAF, which is highly variable between individuals, even of similar age and genotype.
Serial assessment of achromatopsia using multiple imaging and functional modalities reveals limited and slow rates of progression, the implications of which are discussed in the context of imminent clinical gene therapy trials.
PMCID: PMC4161486  PMID: 25103266
achromatopsia; gene therapy; optical coherence tomography; retinal dystrophy; retinal degeneration
6.  Screening of a large cohort of Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa patients identifies novel LCA5 mutations and new genotype-phenotype correlations 
Human mutation  2013;34(11):1537-1546.
To investigate the prevalence of sequence variants in LCA5 in patients with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), early onset rod-cone dystrophy (EORD) and autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP), to delineate the ocular phenotypes, and to provide an overview of all published LCA5 variants in an online database._Patients underwent standard ophthalmic evaluations after providing informed consent. In selected patients, optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fundus autofluorescence imaging was possible. DNA samples from 797 unrelated patients with LCA and 211 with the various types of RP were screened by Sanger sequence analysis of all LCA5 exons and intron/exon junctions. Some LCA patients were pre-screened by APEX technology or selected based on homozygosity mapping. In silico analyses were performed to assess the pathogenicity of the variants. Segregation analysis was performed where possible. Published and novel LCA5 variants were collected, amended for their correct nomenclature, and listed in a Leiden Open Variation Database (LOVD). Sequence analysis identified 18 new probands with 19 different LCA5 variants. Seventeen of the 19 LCA5 variants were novel. Except for two missense variants and one splice site variant, all variants were protein-truncating mutations. Most patients expressed a severe phenotype, typical of LCA. However, some LCA subjects had better vision and intact inner segment/outer segment (IS/OS) junctions on OCT imaging. In two families with LCA5 variants, the phenotype was more compatible with EORD with affected individuals displaying preserved islands of RPE. One of these milder families harbored a homozygous splice site mutation, a second family was found to have a combination of a stop mutation and a missense mutation. This is the largest LCA5 study to date. We sequenced 1008 patients (797 with LCA, 211 with arRP) and identified 18 probands with LCA5 mutations. Mutations in LCA5 are a rare cause of childhood retinal dystrophy accounting for ~2% of disease in this cohort and the majority of LCA5 mutations are likely null. The LCA5 protein truncating mutations are predominantly associated with LCA. However, in two families with the milder EORD, the LCA5 gene analysis revealed a homozygous splice site mutation in one and a stop mutation in combination with a missense mutation in a second family, suggesting that this milder phenotype is due to residual function of lebercilin and expanding the currently known phenotypic spectrum to include the milder early onset RP. Some patients have remaining foveal cone structures (intact IS/OS junctions on OCT imaging) and remaining visual acuities, which may bode well for upcoming treatment trials.
PMCID: PMC4337959  PMID: 23946133
LCA; RP; retinal dystrophy; blindness; LCA5; lebercilin
7.  Three Different Cone Opsin Gene Array Mutational Mechanisms with Genotype–Phenotype Correlation and Functional Investigation of Cone Opsin Variants 
Human Mutation  2014;35(11):1354-1362.
Mutations in the OPN1LW (L-) and OPN1MW (M-)cone opsin genes underlie a spectrum of cone photoreceptor defects from stationary loss of color vision to progressive retinal degeneration. Genotypes of 22 families with a range of cone disorders were grouped into three classes: deletions of the locus control region (LCR); missense mutation (p.Cys203Arg) in an L-/M-hybrid gene; and exon 3 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) interchange haplotypes in an otherwise normal gene array. Moderate-to-high myopia was observed in all mutation categories. Individuals with LCR deletions or p.Cys203Arg mutations were more likely to have nystagmus and poor vision, with disease progression in some p.Cys203Arg patients. Three disease-associated exon 3 SNP haplotypes encoding LIAVA, LVAVA, or MIAVA were identified in our cohort. These patients were less likely to have nystagmus but more likely to show progression, with all patients over the age of 40 years having marked macular abnormalities. Previously, the haplotype LIAVA has been shown to result in exon 3 skipping. Here, we show that haplotypes LVAVA and MIAVA also result in aberrant splicing, with a residual low level of correctly spliced cone opsin. The OPN1LW/OPN1MW:c.532A>G SNP, common to all three disease-associated haplotypes, appears to be principally responsible for this mutational mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4285181  PMID: 25168334
opsin; blue cone monochromacy; splicing; cone dystrophy; OPN1LW; OPN1MW
8.  Retinal Structure and Function in Achromatopsia: Implications for Gene Therapy 
Ophthalmology  2013;121(1):234-245.
To characterize retinal structure and function in achromatopsia (ACHM) in preparation for clinical trials of gene therapy.
Cross-sectional study.
Forty subjects with ACHM.
All subjects underwent spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), microperimetry, and molecular genetic testing. Foveal structure on SD-OCT was graded into 5 distinct categories: (i) continuous inner segment ellipsoid (ISe), (ii) ISe disruption, (iii) ISe absence, (iv) presence of a hyporeflective zone (HRZ), and (v) outer retinal atrophy including retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) loss. Foveal and outer nuclear layer (ONL) thickness was measured, and presence of hypoplasia determined.
Main Outcome Measures
Photoreceptor appearance on SD-OCT imaging; foveal and ONL thickness; presence of foveal hypoplasia; retinal sensitivity and fixation stability; and association of these parameters with age and genotype.
Forty subjects with mean age of 24.9 years (range 6 to 52) were included. Disease-causing variants were found in CNGA3 (n=18), CNGB3 (n=15), GNAT2 (n=4), and PDE6C (n=1). No variants were found in 2 individuals. 22.5% of subjects had a continuous ISe layer at the fovea; 27.5% had ISe disruption; 20% had an absent ISe layer; 22.5% had a HRZ; and 7.5% had outer retinal atrophy. No significant differences in age (p=0.77), mean retinal sensitivity (p=0.21) or fixation stability (p=0.34) across the 5 SD-OCT categories were evident. No significant correlation was found between age and foveal thickness (p=0.84), or between age and foveal ONL thickness (p=0.12).
The lack of clear association of disruption of retinal structure or function in ACHM with age suggests that the window of opportunity for intervention by gene therapy is wider in some individuals than previously indicated. Therefore the potential benefit for a given subject is likely to be better predicted by specific measurement of photoreceptor structure rather than simply by age. The ability to directly assess cone photoreceptor preservation with SD-OCT and/or adaptive optics imaging is likely to prove invaluable in selecting subjects for future trials and measuring their impact.
PMCID: PMC3895408  PMID: 24148654
9.  Molecular modeling indicates distinct classes of missense variants with mild and severe XLRS phenotypes 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(23):4756-4767.
X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) is a vitreo-retinal degeneration caused by mutations in the RS1 gene which encodes the protein retinoschisin (RS1), required for the structural and functional integrity of the retina. Data are presented from a group of 38 XLRS patients from Moorfields Eye Hospital (London, UK) who had one of 18 missense mutations in RS1. Patients were grouped based on mutation severity predicted by molecular modeling: mild (class I), moderate (intermediate) and severe (class II). Most patients had an electronegative scotopic bright flash electroretinogram  (ERG) (reduced b/a-wave ratio) in keeping with predominant inner retinal dysfunction. An association between the type of structural RS1 alterations and the severity of b/a-wave reduction was found in all but the oldest group of patients, significant in patients aged 15–30 years. Severe RS1 missense changes were associated with a lower ERG b/a ratio than were mild changes, suggesting that the extent of inner retinal dysfunction is influenced by the effect of the mutations on protein structure. The majority of class I mutations showed no changes involving cysteine residues. Class II mutations caused severe perturbations due to the removal or insertion of cysteine residues or due to changes in the hydrophobic core. The ERG b/a ratio in intermediate cases was abnormal but showed significant variability, possibly related to the role of proline or arginine residues. We also conducted a second study, using a completely independent cohort, to indicate a genotype–ERG phenotype correlation.
PMCID: PMC3820135  PMID: 23847049
10.  Understanding the impact of genetic testing for inherited retinal dystrophy 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2013;21(11):1209-1213.
The capability of genetic technologies is expanding rapidly in the field of inherited eye disease. New genetic testing approaches will deliver a step change in the ability to diagnose and extend the possibility of targeted treatments. However, evidence is lacking about the benefits of genetic testing to support service planning. Here, we report qualitative data about retinal dystrophy families' experiences of genetic testing in United Kingdom. The data were part of a wider study examining genetic eye service provision. Twenty interviewees from families in which a causative mutation had been identified by a genetic eye clinic were recruited to the study. Fourteen interviewees had chosen to have a genetic test and five had not; one was uncertain. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted allowing a thorough exploration of interviewees' views and experiences of the benefits of genetic counselling and testing. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Both affected and unaffected interviewees expressed mainly positive views about genetic testing, highlighting benefits such as diagnostic confirmation, risk information, and better preparation for the future. Negative consequences included the burden of knowledge, moral dilemmas around reproduction, and potential impact on insurance. The offer of genetic testing was often taken up, but was felt unnecessary in some cases. Interviewees in the study reported many benefits, suggesting genetic testing should be available to this patient group. The benefits and risks identified will inform future evaluation of models of service delivery. This research was part of a wider study exploring experiences of families with retinal dystrophy.
PMCID: PMC3798830  PMID: 23403902
retinal dystrophy; genetic testing; service delivery; qualitative interviews
11.  ABCA4 Gene Screening by Next-Generation Sequencing in a British Cohort 
We applied a recently reported next-generation sequencing (NGS) strategy for screening the ABCA4 gene in a British cohort with ABCA4-associated disease and report novel mutations.
We identified 79 patients with a clinical diagnosis of ABCA4-associated disease who had a single variant identified by the ABCA4 microarray. Comprehensive phenotypic data were obtained, and the NGS strategy was applied to identify the second allele by means of sequencing the entire coding region and adjacent intronic sequences of the ABCA4 gene. Identified variants were confirmed by Sanger sequencing and assessed for pathogenicity by in silico analysis.
Of the 42 variants detected by prescreening with the microarray, in silico analysis suggested that 34, found in 66 subjects, were disease-causing and 8, found in 13 subjects, were benign variants. We detected 42 variants by NGS, of which 39 were classified as disease-causing. Of these 39 variants, 31 were novel, including 16 missense, 7 splice-site–altering, 4 nonsense, 1 in-frame deletion, and 3 frameshift variants. Two or more disease-causing variants were confirmed in 37 (47%) of 79 patients, one disease-causing variant in 36 (46%) subjects, and no disease-causing variant in 6 (7%) individuals.
Application of the NGS platform for ABCA4 screening enabled detection of the second disease-associated allele in approximately half of the patients in a British cohort where one mutation had been detected with the arrayed primer extension (APEX) array. The time- and cost-efficient NGS strategy is useful in screening large cohorts, which will be increasingly valuable with the advent of ABCA4-directed therapies.
PCR-enrichment–based next-generation sequencing with an amplicon tagging protocol revealed two or more disease-causing variants in 37 of 79 patients with ABCA4-associated retinal disease, who had only one variant detected in prescreening with arrayed primer extension technology.
PMCID: PMC3796939  PMID: 23982839
ABCA4; next generation sequencing; Stargardt disease
12.  Retinal gene therapy in patients with choroideremia: initial findings from a phase 1/2 clinical trial 
Lancet  2014;383(9923):1129-1137.
Choroideremia is an X-linked recessive disease that leads to blindness due to mutations in the CHM gene, which encodes the Rab escort protein 1 (REP1). We assessed the effects of retinal gene therapy with an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector encoding REP1 (AAV.REP1) in patients with this disease.
In a multicentre clinical trial, six male patients (aged 35–63 years) with choroideremia were administered AAV.REP1 (0·6–1·0×1010 genome particles, subfoveal injection). Visual function tests included best corrected visual acuity, microperimetry, and retinal sensitivity tests for comparison of baseline values with 6 months after surgery. This study is registered with, number NCT01461213.
Despite undergoing retinal detachment, which normally reduces vision, two patients with advanced choroideremia who had low baseline best corrected visual acuity gained 21 letters and 11 letters (more than two and four lines of vision). Four other patients with near normal best corrected visual acuity at baseline recovered to within one to three letters. Mean gain in visual acuity overall was 3·8 letters (SE 4·1). Maximal sensitivity measured with dark-adapted microperimetry increased in the treated eyes from 23·0 dB (SE 1·1) at baseline to 25·3 dB (1·3) after treatment (increase 2·3 dB [95% CI 0·8–3·8]). In all patients, over the 6 months, the increase in retinal sensitivity in the treated eyes (mean 1·7 [SE 1·0]) was correlated with the vector dose administered per mm2 of surviving retina (r=0·82, p=0·04). By contrast, small non-significant reductions (p>0·05) were noted in the control eyes in both maximal sensitivity (–0·8 dB [1·5]) and mean sensitivity (–1·6 dB [0·9]). One patient in whom the vector was not administered to the fovea re-established variable eccentric fixation that included the ectopic island of surviving retinal pigment epithelium that had been exposed to vector.
The initial results of this retinal gene therapy trial are consistent with improved rod and cone function that overcome any negative effects of retinal detachment. These findings lend support to further assessment of gene therapy in the treatment of choroideremia and other diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration, for which intervention should ideally be applied before the onset of retinal thinning.
UK Department of Health and Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC4171740  PMID: 24439297
13.  An atypical case of choroidal neovascularization associated with pseudoxanthoma elasticum treated with intravitreal bevacizumab: a case report 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:530.
Pseudoxanthoma elasticum is an inherited disorder that is associated with accumulation of pathologic elastic fibers in the skin, vascular walls and Bruch’s membrane in the eye. Choroidal neovascularization is one of the most common causes of acute vision loss in these patients. We report an atypical case of suspected choroidal neovascularization associated with pseudoxanthoma elasticum.
Case presentation
A 47-year-old Caucasian woman with pseudoxanthoma elasticum and angioid streaks was referred because of decreased and distorted vision in her right eye of one week’s duration. Visual acuity was 6/12 in the right eye and 6/6 in the left eye. Fundus examination revealed angioid streaks and white intraretinal macular deposits bilaterally. Fluorescein angiography did not reveal any obvious leakage in the right eye while optical coherence tomography revealed subretinal fluid associated with an adjacent intraretinal hyperreflective structure. Autofluoresence imaging showed focal areas of increased autofluorescence corresponding to the deposits in both eyes. Over the following year the patient underwent five intravitreal injections of bevacizumab (Genentech/Roche,US) in the right eye, which resulted in visual acuity improving to 6/9 with regression of the hyperreflective structrure and complete resolution of subretinal fluid.
Traditionally, fluorescein angiography is effective in the detection of choroidal neovascularization in patients with pseudoxanthoma elasticum. In our case, optical coherence tomography revealed subretinal fluid and an adjacent hyperreflective structure while fluorescein angiography did not reveal any obvious leakage. The sole presence of subretinal fluid does not necessarily imply the presence of choroidal neovascularization and certainly retinal pigment epithelium dysfunction could also explain subretinal fluid in these patients. However, the complete absorption of the fluid and the disappearance of the previously evident hyperreflective structure following treatment, led us to suspect choroidal neovascularization as the primary cause of the above findings. The poor natural course of choroidal neovascularization in these patients increases the importance of early detection and should result in the adaptation of a low-threshold strategy concerning the initiation of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3866942  PMID: 24325973
Bevacizumab; Choroidal neovascularization; Pseudoxanthoma elasticum
14.  Assessing Retinal Structure In Complete Congenital Stationary Night Blindness and Oguchi Disease 
American journal of ophthalmology  2012;154(6):987-1001.e1.
To examine retinal structure and changes in photoreceptor intensity post-dark adaptation in patients with complete congenital stationary night blindness and Oguchi disease.
Prospective observational case series.
We recruited three patients with complete congenital stationary night blindness caused by mutations in GRM6, two brothers with Oguchi disease caused by mutations in GRK1, and one normal control. Retinal thickness was measured from optical coherence tomography (OCT) images. Integrity of the rod and cone mosaic was assessed using adaptive optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy. We imaged five of the patients following a period of dark adaptation, and examined layer reflectivity on OCT in a patient with Oguchi disease under light- and dark-adapted conditions.
Retinal thickness was reduced in the parafoveal region in patients with GRM6 mutations, as a result of decreased thickness of the inner retinal layers. All patients had normal photoreceptor density at all locations analyzed. Upon removal from dark adaptation, the intensity of the rods (but not cones) in the patients with Oguchi disease gradually and significantly increased. In one Oguchi patient, the outer segment layer contrast on OCT was fourfold higher under dark-adapted versus light-adapted conditions.
The selective thinning of the inner retinal layers in patients with GRM6 mutations suggests either reduced bipolar/ganglion cell numbers or altered synaptic structure in the inner retina. Our finding that rods, but not cones, change intensity after dark adaptation suggests that fundus changes in Oguchi disease are due to changes within the rods as opposed to changes at a different retinal locus.
PMCID: PMC3498541  PMID: 22959359
15.  Genome-wide association study of age-related macular degeneration identifies associated variants in the TNXB–FKBPL–NOTCH4 region of chromosome 6p21.3 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(18):4138-4150.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss in Western populations. Susceptibility is influenced by age, environmental and genetic factors. Known genetic risk loci do not account for all the heritability. We therefore carried out a genome-wide association study of AMD in the UK population with 893 cases of advanced AMD and 2199 controls. This showed an association with the well-established AMD risk loci ARMS2 (age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2)–HTRA1 (HtrA serine peptidase 1) (P =2.7 × 10−72), CFH (complement factor H) (P =2.3 × 10−47), C2 (complement component 2)–CFB (complement factor B) (P =5.2 × 10−9), C3 (complement component 3) (P =2.2 × 10−3) and CFI (P =3.6 × 10−3) and with more recently reported risk loci at VEGFA (P =1.2 × 10−3) and LIPC (hepatic lipase) (P =0.04). Using a replication sample of 1411 advanced AMD cases and 1431 examined controls, we confirmed a novel association between AMD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 6p21.3 at TNXB (tenascin XB)–FKBPL (FK506 binding protein like) [rs12153855/rs9391734; discovery P =4.3 × 10−7, replication P =3.0 × 10−4, combined P =1.3 × 10−9, odds ratio (OR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3–1.6] and the neighbouring gene NOTCH4 (Notch 4) (rs2071277; discovery P =3.2 × 10−8, replication P =3.8 × 10−5, combined P =2.0 × 10−11, OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.2–1.4). These associations remained significant in conditional analyses which included the adjacent C2–CFB locus. TNXB, FKBPL and NOTCH4 are all plausible AMD susceptibility genes, but further research will be needed to identify the causal variants and determine whether any of these genes are involved in the pathogenesis of AMD.
PMCID: PMC3428154  PMID: 22694956
16.  Screening for duplications, deletions and a common intronic mutation detects 35% of second mutations in patients with USH2A monoallelic mutations on Sanger sequencing 
Usher Syndrome is the leading cause of inherited deaf-blindness. It is divided into three subtypes, of which the most common is Usher type 2, and the USH2A gene accounts for 75-80% of cases. Despite recent sequencing strategies, in our cohort a significant proportion of individuals with Usher type 2 have just one heterozygous disease-causing mutation in USH2A, or no convincing disease-causing mutations across nine Usher genes. The purpose of this study was to improve the molecular diagnosis in these families by screening USH2A for duplications, heterozygous deletions and a common pathogenic deep intronic variant USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G.
Forty-nine Usher type 2 or atypical Usher families who had missing mutations (mono-allelic USH2A or no mutations following Sanger sequencing of nine Usher genes) were screened for duplications/deletions using the USH2A SALSA MLPA reagent kit (MRC-Holland). Identification of USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G was achieved by Sanger sequencing. Mutations were confirmed by a combination of reverse transcription PCR using RNA extracted from nasal epithelial cells or fibroblasts, and by array comparative genomic hybridisation with sequencing across the genomic breakpoints.
Eight mutations were identified in 23 Usher type 2 families (35%) with one previously identified heterozygous disease-causing mutation in USH2A. These consisted of five heterozygous deletions, one duplication, and two heterozygous instances of the pathogenic variant USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G. No variants were found in the 15 Usher type 2 families with no previously identified disease-causing mutations. In 11 atypical families, none of whom had any previously identified convincing disease-causing mutations, the mutation USH2A: c.7595-2144A>G was identified in a heterozygous state in one family. All five deletions and the heterozygous duplication we report here are novel. This is the first time that a duplication in USH2A has been reported as a cause of Usher syndrome.
We found that 8 of 23 (35%) of ‘missing’ mutations in Usher type 2 probands with only a single heterozygous USH2A mutation detected with Sanger sequencing could be attributed to deletions, duplications or a pathogenic deep intronic variant. Future mutation detection strategies and genetic counselling will need to take into account the prevalence of these types of mutations in order to provide a more comprehensive diagnostic service.
PMCID: PMC3751126  PMID: 23924366
Usher syndrome; USH2A; Deletion; Duplication; Pseudoexon; Multiplex ligation dependant probe amplification (MLPA); Array CGH
18.  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
19.  Complement factor H genetic variant and age-related macular degeneration: effect size, modifiers and relationship to disease subtype 
Background Variation in the complement factor H gene (CFH) is associated with risk of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Previous studies have been case–control studies in populations of European ancestry with little differentiation in AMD subtype, and insufficient power to confirm or refute effect modification by smoking.
Methods To precisely quantify the association of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP rs1061170, ‘Y402H’) with risk of AMD among studies with differing study designs, participant ancestry and AMD grade and to investigate effect modification by smoking, we report two unpublished genetic association studies (n = 2759) combined with data from 24 published studies (26 studies, 26 494 individuals, including 14 174 cases of AMD) of European ancestry, 10 of which provided individual-level data used to test gene–smoking interaction; and 16 published studies from non-European ancestry.
Results In individuals of European ancestry, there was a significant association between Y402H and late-AMD with a per-allele odds ratio (OR) of 2.27 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.10–2.45; P = 1.1 x 10−161]. There was no evidence of effect modification by smoking (P = 0.75). The frequency of Y402H varied by ancestral origin and the association with AMD in non-Europeans was less clear, limited by paucity of studies.
Conclusion The Y402H variant confers a 2-fold higher risk of late-AMD per copy in individuals of European descent. This was stable to stratification by study design and AMD classification and not modified by smoking. The lack of association in non-Europeans requires further verification. These findings are of direct relevance for disease prediction. New research is needed to ascertain if differences in circulating levels, expression or activity of factor H protein explain the genetic association.
PMCID: PMC3304526  PMID: 22253316
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD); Complement factor H gene; meta-ananlysis
20.  Evidence of association of APOE with age-related macular degeneration - a pooled analysis of 15 studies 
Human mutation  2011;32(12):1407-1416.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of incurable visual impairment in high-income countries. Previous studies report inconsistent associations between AMD and apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid transport protein involved in low-density cholesterol modulation. Potential interaction between APOE and sex, and smoking status, has been reported. We present a pooled analysis (n=21,160) demonstrating associations between late AMD and APOε4 (OR=0.72 per haplotype; CI: 0.65–0.74; P=4.41×10−11) and APOε2 (OR=1.83 for homozygote carriers; CI: 1.04–3.23; P=0.04), following adjustment for age-group and sex within each study and smoking status. No evidence of interaction between APOE and sex or smoking was found. Ever smokers had significant increased risk relative to never smokers for both neovascular (OR=1.54; CI: 1.38–1.72; P=2.8×10−15) and atrophic (OR=1.38; CI: 1.18–1.61; P=3.37×10−5) AMD but not early AMD (OR=0.94; CI: 0.86–1.03; P=0.16), implicating smoking as a major contributing factor to disease progression from early signs to the visually disabling late forms. Extended haplotype analysis incorporating rs405509 did not identify additional risks beyondε2 and ε4 haplotypes. Our expanded analysis substantially improves our understanding of the association between the APOE locus and AMD. It further provides evidence supporting the role of cholesterol modulation, and low-density cholesterol specifically, in AMD disease etiology.
PMCID: PMC3217135  PMID: 21882290
age-related macular degeneration; AMD; apolipoprotein E; APOE; case-control association study
21.  Variations in Apolipoprotein E Frequency With Age in a Pooled Analysis of a Large Group of Older People 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2011;173(12):1357-1364.
Variation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been reported to be associated with longevity in humans. The authors assessed the allelic distribution of APOE isoforms ε2, ε3, and ε4 among 10,623 participants from 15 case-control and cohort studies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in populations of European ancestry (study dates ranged from 1990 to 2009). The authors included only the 10,623 control subjects from these studies who were classified as having no evidence of AMD, since variation within the APOE gene has previously been associated with AMD. In an analysis stratified by study center, gender, and smoking status, there was a decreasing frequency of the APOE ε4 isoform with increasing age (χ2 for trend = 14.9 (1 df); P = 0.0001), with a concomitant increase in the ε3 isoform (χ2 for trend = 11.3 (1 df); P = 0.001). The association with age was strongest in ε4 homozygotes; the frequency of ε4 homozygosity decreased from 2.7% for participants aged 60 years or less to 0.8% for those over age 85 years, while the proportion of participants with the ε3/ε4 genotype decreased from 26.8% to 17.5% across the same age range. Gender had no significant effect on the isoform frequencies. This study provides strong support for an association of the APOE gene with human longevity.
PMCID: PMC3145394  PMID: 21498624
aged; apolipoprotein E2; apolipoprotein E3; apolipoprotein E4; apolipoproteins E; longevity; meta-analysis; multicenter study
22.  Leber Congenital Amaurosis Associated with AIPL1: Challenges in Ascribing Disease Causation, Clinical Findings, and Implications for Gene Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32330.
Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) and Early Childhood Onset Severe Retinal Dystrophy are clinically and genetically heterogeneous retinal disorders characterised by visual impairment and nystagmus from birth or early infancy. We investigated the prevalence of sequence variants in AIPL1 in a large cohort of such patients (n = 392) and probed the likelihood of disease-causation of the identified variants, subsequently undertaking a detailed assessment of the phenotype of patients with disease-causing mutations. Genomic DNA samples were screened for known variants in the AIPL1 gene using a microarray LCA chip, with 153 of these cases then being directly sequenced. The assessment of disease-causation of identified AIPL1 variants included segregation testing, assessing evolutionary conservation and in silico predictions of pathogenicity. The chip identified AIPL1 variants in 12 patients. Sequencing of AIPL1 in 153 patients and 96 controls found a total of 46 variants, with 29 being novel. In silico analysis suggested that only 6 of these variants are likely to be disease-causing, indicating a previously unrecognized high degree of polymorphism. Seven patients were identified with biallelic changes in AIPL1 likely to be disease-causing. In the youngest subject, electroretinography revealed reduced cone photoreceptor function, but rod responses were within normal limits, with no measurable ERG in other patients. An increasing degree and extent of peripheral retinal pigmentation and degree of maculopathy was noted with increasing age in our series. AIPL1 is significantly polymorphic in both controls and patients, thereby complicating the establishment of disease-causation of identified variants. Despite the associated phenotype being characterised by early-onset severe visual loss in our patient series, there was some evidence of a degree of retinal structural and functional preservation, which was most marked in the youngest patient in our cohort. This data suggests that there are patients who have a reasonable window of opportunity for gene therapy in childhood.
PMCID: PMC3295755  PMID: 22412862
23.  The PROM1 Mutation p.R373C Causes an Autosomal Dominant Bull's Eye Maculopathy Associated with Rod, Rod–Cone, and Macular Dystrophy 
Sequence variation in PROM1 should be considered in patients presenting with bull's eye maculopathy.
To characterize in detail the phenotype of five unrelated families with autosomal dominant bull's eye maculopathy (BEM) due to the R373C mutation in the PROM1 gene.
Forty-one individuals of five families of Caribbean (family A), British (families B, D, E), and Italian (family C) origin, segregating the R373C mutation in PROM1, were ascertained. Electrophysiological assessment, fundus autofluorescence (FAF) imaging, fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA), and optical coherence tomography (OCT) were performed in available subjects. Mutation screening of PROM1 was performed.
The R373C mutant was present heterozygously in all affected patients. The age at onset was variable and ranged between 9 and 58 years, with most of the individuals presenting with reading difficulties. Subjects commonly had a mild to moderate reduction in visual acuity except for members of family C who experienced markedly reduced central vision. The retinal phenotype was characterized by macular dystrophy, with retinal pigment epithelial mottling in younger subjects, progressing to typical BEM over time, with the development of macular atrophy in older patients. In addition, all members of family C had typical features of RP. The electrophysiological findings were variable both within and between families.
Mutations in PROM1 have been described to cause a severe form of autosomal recessive RP in two families of Indian and Pakistani descent. The results of this study have demonstrated that a distinct redundant PROM1 mutation (R373C) can also produce an autosomal dominant, fully penetrant retinopathy, characterized by BEM with little inter- and intrafamilial variability, and retinal dystrophy with variable rod or rod–cone dysfunction and marked intra- and interfamilial variability, ranging from isolated maculopathy without generalized photoreceptor dysfunction to maculopathy associated with very severe rod–cone dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC2941169  PMID: 20393116
24.  Autosomal dominant Best disease with an unusual electrooculographic light rise and risk of angle-closure glaucoma: a clinical and molecular genetic study 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:2272-2282.
To describe the clinical and molecular characteristics of two families with autosomal dominant Best disease and atypical electrooculography (EOG).
Four affected individuals from two families were ascertained. Detailed ophthalmic examinations, refraction, and biometry (anterior chamber depth [ACD] and axial length [AL]), gonioscopy, optical coherence tomography of the anterior segment and retina, retinal imaging, and electrophysiological assessment were performed. Arden ratios from EOG testing were calculated by direct measurement of the light peak to dark trough amplitudes. Mutations in bestrophin 1 (BEST1) were identified by bidirectional Sanger sequencing. In family 1, segregation of BEST1 alleles was performed by assaying four microsatellite markers (D11S935, D11S4102, D11S987, and D11S4162) that flank BEST1.
The proband from family 1 (three of four siblings affected with Best disease) was 42 years old with bilateral macular vitelliform lesions, advanced angle closure glaucoma (ACG), a normal electroretinogram, and no EOG light rise. Her 44-year-old brother had similar fundus appearances and an EOG light rise of 170%. Their 48-year-old sister had a normal left fundus, whereas the right fundus showed a vitelliform lesion and subretinal thickening. There was no EOG light rise detectable from either eye. Mutation analysis of BEST1 showed all affected siblings to be heterozygous for a missense mutation, c.914T>C, p.Phe305Ser. Their unaffected sister had an EOG light rise of 200%, a normal fundus appearance, and did not harbor the BEST1 mutation. Haplotype analysis of family 1 showed that the affected brother with the 170% EOG light rise had inherited the same nondiseased parental BEST1 allele as his unaffected sister. The other two affected sisters with undetectable EOG light rises shared a different nondiseased parental BEST1 allele. An unrelated 53-year-old female carrying the same c.914T>C, p.Phe305Ser mutation showed typical features of Best disease and an EOG light rise of 180%. All four siblings from family 1 had shorter axial biometry (ACD range 2.06–2.74 mm; AL range 20.46–22.60 mm) than the normal population, contributing to their risk of ACG development. Proband 2 had deeper ACDs (2.83 mm OD and 2.85 mm OS), but similar ALs (21.52 mm OD and 21.42 mm OS) compared to family 1. She had no gonioscopic evidence of angle closure.
A near normal EOG light rise is uncommon in molecularly confirmed Best disease, and in the present report is associated with the same mutation in two families, suggesting a specific role for this amino acid in the retinal pigment epithelium dysfunction associated with this disorder. Haplotype analysis in family 1 was consistent with an effect of the nondisease allele in mediating the presence of an EOG light rise. Clinical assessment of ACG risk is recommended for BEST1 mutation carriers and their first degree relatives.
PMCID: PMC3171497  PMID: 21921978
25.  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

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