The single nucleotide variant (SNV), rs613872, in the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene was previously found to be strongly associated (P = 6 × 10−26) with Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD). Subsequently, an intronic expansion of the repeating trinucleotides, TGC, was found to be even more predictive of disease. We performed comprehensive sequencing of the TCF4 gene region in order to identify the best marker for FECD within TCF4 and to identify other novel variants that may be associated with FECD.
Leukocyte DNA was isolated from 68 subjects with FECD and 16 unaffected individuals. A custom capture panel was used to isolate the region surrounding the two previously validated markers of FECD. Sequencing of the TCF4 coding region, introns and flanking sequence, spanning 465 kb was performed at >1000× average coverage using the Illumina HiSequation 2000.
TGC expansion (>50 repeats) was present in 46 (68%) FECD-affected subjects and one (6%) normal subject. A total of 1866 variants, including 1540 SNVs, were identified. Only two previously reported SNVs resided in the TCF4 coding region, neither of which segregated with disease. No variant, including TGC expansion, correlated perfectly with disease status. Trinucleotide repeat expansion was a better predictor of disease than any other variant.
Complete sequencing of the TCF4 genomic region revealed no single causative variant for FECD. The intronic trinucleotide repeat expansion within TCF4 continues to be more strongly associated with FECD than any other genetic variant.
Complete sequencing of the TCF4 gene was performed in 68 patients with Fuchs' dystrophy and 16 controls. No variant was a perfect predictor of disease or was more strongly associated with Fuchs' than TGC trinucleotide repeat expansion, suggesting the role of repeat expansion in disease pathogenesis.