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1.  Retinal Degenerations: Genetics, Mechanisms, and Therapies 
Journal of Ophthalmology  2011;2011:764873.
PMCID: PMC3216361  PMID: 22132314
2.  Molecular genetic diagnostic techniques in choroideremia 
Molecular Vision  2014;20:535-544.
To optimize and streamline molecular genetics techniques in diagnosing choroideremia (CHM).
PCR primers were designed for exons 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15 of the CHM gene. Each PCR protocol was optimized so that all exons could be amplified with the same component ratio and PCR conditions. Sense and antisense primers were tested for their ability to be used as sequencing primers. Fibroblast cells were cultured, and an immunoblot analysis was performed to detect the presence or absence of Rab escort protein 1 (REP-1) in a suspected CHM patient sample when no mutation was detected with sequencing. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) of the CHM gene was performed and used to detect deletions and duplications in affected males and female carriers. RNA analysis using cDNA was used to detect the presence or absence of the CHM transcript and to search for splice defects.
The newly designed PCR primers allow for more efficient PCR preparation and sequencing to detect point mutations in affected males and female carriers. Immunoblot successfully detects the absence of REP-1 in a CHM patient. MLPA identifies deletions and duplications spanning multiple exons in the CHM gene. RNA analysis aids in detecting splice variants.
The development of new molecular biology techniques and ongoing optimization of existing methods allows for an improved integrated approach to confirm CHM diagnosis and carrier status in consideration of patient family history and available patient sample materials. CHM can be confirmed with an immunoblot assay. To detect the molecular cause of CHM, an examination of the genomic DNA or the mRNA must be performed. Presymptomatic carriers with no identifiable fundus signs can be identified only through molecular analysis of genomic DNA or through quantitative assays.
PMCID: PMC4000712  PMID: 24791138
3.  Pharmacogenetics – Getting Closer 
This review is written for the generalist to provide an understanding of the application of genetics to the care of patients with glaucoma and the broader concepts of personalized medicine. More specifically, the review will link advances in the genetics of glaucoma with the concepts of pharmacogenetics and its potential to improve patient care.
PMCID: PMC2759118  PMID: 19816587
Pharmacogenetics; genomics; glaucoma; personalized medicine.
4.  Current Concepts in the Treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa 
Journal of Ophthalmology  2010;2011:753547.
Inherited retinal degenerations, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), affect 1 in 4000 individuals in the general population. A majority of the genes which are mutated in these conditions are expressed in either photoreceptors or the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). There is considerable variation in the clinical severity of these conditions; the most severe being autosomal recessive LCA, a heterogeneous retinal degenerative disease and the commonest cause of congenital blindness in children. Here, we discuss all the potential treatments that are now available for retinal degeneration. A number of therapeutic avenues are being explored based on our knowledge of the pathophysiology of retinal degeneration derived from research on animal models, including: gene therapy, antiapoptosis agents, neurotrophic factors, and dietary supplementation. Technological advances in retinal implant devices continue to provide the promise of vision for patients with end-stage disease.
PMCID: PMC2964907  PMID: 21048997
5.  Silencing of the CHM Gene Alters Phagocytic and Secretory Pathways in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
The pathogenesis of choroideremia (CHM), an X-linked retinopathy, remains poorly defined. Silencing of the CHM gene in the retinal pigment epithelium in vitro alters phagocytic and secretory pathways and may indicate how the disorder leads to retinal degeneration.
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked progressive degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), photoreceptors, and choroid caused by mutations in the CHM gene, which encodes Rab escort-protein-1 (REP-1). REP-1 enables posttranslational isoprenyl modification of Rab GTPases, proteins that control vesicle formation, movement, docking, and fusion. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of REP-1 depletion on vesicular trafficking in phagocytic and secretory pathways of human RPE.
In vitro, REP-1 expression was inhibited in human fetal RPE (hfRPE) cells by siRNA knockdown and its effects measured on the uptake of bovine photoreceptor outer segments (POS), proteolysis of POS rhodopsin, phagosomal pH, phagosome fusion with early and late endosomes/lysosomes, and polarized secretion of cytokines.
Depletion of REP-1 in human RPE cells did not affect POS internalization but reduced phagosomal acidification and delayed POS protein clearance. REP-1 depletion also caused a decrease in the association of POS-containing phagosomes with late endosomal markers (Rab7, LAMP-1) and increases in the secretion of monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP-1) and interleukin (IL)-8 by hfRPE cells.
Lack of REP-1 protein expression in hfRPE cells leads to reduced degradation of POS most likely because of the inhibition of phagosome-lysosome fusion events and increased constitutive secretion of MCP-1 and IL-8. These observations may explain the accumulation of unprocessed outer segments within the phagolysosomes of RPE cells and the presence of inflammatory cells in the choroid of patients with CHM.
PMCID: PMC2868448  PMID: 19741243
6.  Choroideremia: New Findings from Ocular Pathology and Review of Recent Literature 
Survey of ophthalmology  2009;54(3):401-407.
Histopathology of young individuals affected by choroideremia is rarely available to allow correlation with the clinical presentation. A 30-year-old male with choroideremia died in a motor vehicle accident and one eye was subjected to histopathological examination. Immunoblot analysis of protein derived from white blood cells of a living brother, also affected with choroideremia, confirmed the absence of Rab escort protein-1, the normal CHM gene product. Direct sequencing of the coding region and adjacent splice sites of the CHM gene was undertaken on genomic DNA from the living brother and revealed a transition mutation, C to T, in exon 6 (R253X) which resulted in a stop codon and was predicted to truncate the protein product. Histopathological examination of the eye of the deceased brother showed relative independent degeneration of choriocapillaris, retinal pigment epithelium and retina, similar to observations in the mouse model of choroideremia. In addition, mild T-lymphocytic infiltration was found within the choroid. The ophthalmic features and the pathology of choroideremia are discussed in light of new findings in the current case.
PMCID: PMC2679958  PMID: 19422966
choroideremia; histopathology; mutation analysis; retinal degeneration
7.  Genetics and ARMD 
PMCID: PMC400700  PMID: 15136529
8.  High-Resolution Images of Retinal Structure in Patients with Choroideremia 
To study retinal structure in choroideremia patients and carriers using high-resolution imaging techniques.
Subjects from four families (six female carriers and five affected males) with choroideremia (CHM) were characterized with best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), kinetic and static perimetry, full-field electroretinography, and fundus autofluorescence (FAF). High-resolution macular images were obtained with adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) and spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Coding regions of the CHM gene were sequenced.
Molecular analysis of the CHM gene identified a deletion of exons 9 to 15 in family A, a splice site mutation at position 79+1 of exon 1 in family B, deletion of exons 6 to 8 in family C, and a substitution at position 106 causing a premature stop in family D. BCVA ranged from 20/16 to 20/63 in carriers and from 20/25 to 5/63 in affected males. FAF showed abnormalities in all subjects. SD-OCT showed outer retinal layer loss, outer retinal tubulations at the margin of outer retinal loss, and inner retinal microcysts. Patchy cone loss was present in two symptomatic carriers. In two affected males, cone mosaics were disrupted with increased cone spacing near the fovea but more normal cone spacing near the edge of atrophy.
High-resolution retinal images in CHM carriers and affected males demonstrated RPE and photoreceptor cell degeneration. As both RPE and photoreceptor cells were affected, these cell types may degenerate simultaneously in CHM. These findings provide insight into the effect of CHM mutations on macular retinal structure, with implications for the development of treatments for CHM. ( number, NCT00254605.)
High-resolution retinal images in choroideremia carriers and affected males demonstrated degeneration of retinal pigment epithelial and photoreceptor cells. The findings illustrate the effect of CHM mutations on macular cone structure, with implications for the development of treatments for CHM.
PMCID: PMC3564452  PMID: 23299470
10.  Mutations in RLBP1 associated with fundus albipunctatus in consanguineous Pakistani families 
The British journal of ophthalmology  2011;95(7):1019-1024.
To identify disease-causing mutations in two consanguineous Pakistani families with fundus albipunctatus.
Affected individuals in both families underwent a thorough clinical examination including funduscopy and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected from all participating members and genomic DNA was extracted. Exclusion analysis was completed with microsatellite short tandem repeat markers that span all reported loci for fundus albipunctatus. Two-point logarithm of odds (LOD) scores were calculated, and coding exons and exon–intron boundaries of RLBP1 were sequenced bi-directionally.
The ophthalmic examination of affected patients in both families was consistent with fundus albipunctatus. The alleles of markers on chromosome 15q flanking RLBP1 segregated with the disease phenotype in both families and linkage was further confirmed by two-point LOD scores. Bi-directional sequencing of RLBP1 identified a nonsense mutation (R156X) and a missense mutation (G116R) that segregated with the disease phenotype in their respective families.
These results strongly suggest that mutations in RLBP1 are responsible for fundus albipunctatus in the affected individuals of these consanguineous Pakistani families.
PMCID: PMC3459316  PMID: 21447491
11.  High-Throughput Retina-Array for Screening 93 Genes Involved in Inherited Retinal Dystrophy 
To facilitate mutation screening in patients, a custom resequencing chip has been developed to detect sequence alterations of 267,550 bases of both sense and antisense sequences in 1,470 exons spanning 93 genes involved in inherited retinal dystrophy.
Retinal dystrophy (RD) is a broad group of hereditary disorders with heterogeneous genotypes and phenotypes. Current available genetic testing for these diseases is complicated, time consuming, and expensive. This study was conducted to develop and apply a microarray-based, high-throughput resequencing system to detect sequence alterations in genes related to inherited RD.
A customized 300-kb resequencing chip, Retina-Array, was developed to detect sequence alterations of 267,550 bases of both sense and antisense sequence in 1470 exons spanning 93 genes involved in inherited RD. Retina-Array was evaluated in 19 patient samples with inherited RD provided by the eyeGENE repository and four Centre d'Etudes du Polymorphisme Humaine reference samples through a high-throughput experimental approach that included an automated PCR assay setup and quantification, efficient post-quantification data processing, optimized pooling and fragmentation, and standardized chip processing.
The performance of the chips demonstrated that the average base pair call rate and accuracy were 93.56% and 99.86%, respectively. In total, 304 candidate variations were identified using a series of customized screening filters. Among 174 selected variations, 123 (70.7%) were further confirmed by dideoxy sequencing. Analysis of patient samples using Retina-Array resulted in the identification of 10 known mutations and 12 novel variations with high probability of deleterious effects.
This study suggests that Retina-Array might be a valuable tool for the detection of disease-causing mutations and disease severity modifiers in a single experiment. Retinal-Array may provide a powerful and feasible approach through which to study genetic heterogeneity in retinal diseases.
PMCID: PMC3231844  PMID: 22025579
12.  Inner Retina Remodeling in a Mouse Model of Stargardt-like Macular Dystrophy (STGD3) 
Photoreceptor loss in Stargardt-like degeneration is accompanied by remodeling of the retina. Therefore, when developing therapies, such changes must be taken into account.
To investigate the impact of progressive age-related photoreceptor degeneration on retinal integrity in Stargardt-like macular dystrophy (STGD3).
The structural design of the inner retina of the ELOVL4 transgenic mouse model of STGD3 was compared with that of age-matched littermate wild-type (WT) mice from 1 to 24 months of age by using immunohistofluorescence and confocal microscopy and by relying on antibodies against cell-type–specific markers, synapse-associated proteins, and neurotransmitters.
Müller cell reactivity occurred at the earliest age studied, before photoreceptor loss. This finding is perhaps not surprising, considering the cell's ubiquitous roles in retina homeostasis. Second-order neurons displayed salient morphologic changes as a function of photoreceptoral input loss. Age-related sprouting of dendritic fibers from rod bipolar and horizontal cells into the ONL did not occur. In contrast, with the loss of photoreceptor sensory input, these second-order neurons progressively bore fewer synapses. After rod loss, the few remaining cones showed abnormal opsin expression, revealing tortuous branched axons. After complete ONL loss (beyond 18 months of age), localized areas of extreme retinal disruptions were observed in the central retina. RPE cell invasion, dense networks of strongly reactive Müller cell processes, and invagination of axons and blood vessels were distinctive features of these regions. In addition, otherwise unaffected cholinergic amacrine cells displayed severe perturbation of their cell bodies and synaptic plexi in these areas.
Remodeling in ELOVL4 transgenic mice follows a pattern similar to that reported after other types of hereditary retinopathies in animals and humans, pointing to a potentially common pathophysiologic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2868397  PMID: 19933199
13.  Mutations in ASCC3L1 on 2q11.2 Are Associated with Autosomal Dominant Retinitis Pigmentosa in a Chinese Family 
Linkage of adRP to the ASCC3L1 region of chromosome 2 and identification of a mutation in hBrr2p associated with RP in this Chinese family add mutations in another splicing factor to the known causes of RP.
To localize and identify the gene and mutations causing autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa in a Chinese Family.
Families were ascertained and patients underwent complete ophthalmic examinations. Blood samples were collected and DNA was extracted. A linkage scan of genomic regions containing known candidate genes was performed by using 34 polymorphic microsatellite markers on genomic DNA from affected and unaffected family members, and lod scores were calculated. Candidate genes were sequenced and mutations analyzed.
A genome-wide scan yielded a lod score of 3.5 at θ = 0 for D2S2333 and 3.46 at θ = 0 for D2S2216. This region harbors the ASCC3L1 gene. Sequencing of ASCC3L1 in an affected family member showed a heterozygous single-base-pair change; c.3269G→T, predicted to result in an Arg1090Leu amino acid change.
The results provide strong evidence that mutations in ASCC3L1 have resulted in autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa in this Chinese family.
PMCID: PMC2868455  PMID: 19710410
14.  Loss-of-Function Mutations in Rab Escort Protein 1 (REP-1) Affect Intracellular Transport in Fibroblasts and Monocytes of Choroideremia Patients 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8402.
Choroideremia (CHM) is a progressive X-linked retinopathy caused by mutations in the CHM gene, which encodes Rab escort protein-1 (REP-1), an escort protein involved in the prenylation of Rabs. Under-prenylation of certain Rabs, as a result of loss of function mutations in REP-1, could affect vesicular trafficking, exocytosis and secretion in peripheral cells of CHM patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To evaluate this hypothesis, intracellular vesicle transport, lysosomal acidification and rates of proteolytic degradation were studied in monocytes (CD14+ fraction) and primary skin fibroblasts from the nine age-matched controls and thirteen CHM patients carrying 10 different loss-of-function mutations. With the use of pHrodo™ BioParticles® conjugated with E. coli, collagen I coated FluoSpheres beads and fluorescent DQ™ ovalbumin with BODYPY FL dye, we demonstrated for the first time that lysosomal pH was increased in monocytes of CHM patients and, as a consequence, the rates of proteolytic degradation were slowed. Microarray analysis of gene expression revealed that some genes involved in the immune response, small GTPase regulation, transcription, cell adhesion and the regulation of exocytosis were significantly up and down regulated in cells from CHM patients compared to controls. Finally, CHM fibroblasts secreted significantly lower levels of cytokine/growth factors such as macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), pigment epithelial derived factor (PEDF), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) beta and interleukin (lL)-8.
We demonstrated for the first time that peripheral cells of CHM patients had increased pH levels in lysosomes, reduced rates of proteolytic degradation and altered secretion of cytokines. Peripheral cells from CHM patients expose characteristics that were not previously recognized and could used as an alternative models to study the effects of different mutations in the REP-1 gene on mechanism of CHM development in human population.
PMCID: PMC2793004  PMID: 20027300
16.  Phenotypic and molecular assessment of seven patients with 6p25 deletion syndrome: Relevance to ocular dysgenesis and hearing impairment 
BMC Medical Genetics  2004;5:17.
Thirty-nine patients have been described with deletions involving chromosome 6p25. However, relatively few of these deletions have had molecular characterization. Common phenotypes of 6p25 deletion syndrome patients include hydrocephalus, hearing loss, and ocular, craniofacial, skeletal, cardiac, and renal malformations. Molecular characterization of deletions can identify genes that are responsible for these phenotypes.
We report the clinical phenotype of seven patients with terminal deletions of chromosome 6p25 and compare them to previously reported patients. Molecular characterization of the deletions was performed using polymorphic marker analysis to determine the extents of the deletions in these seven 6p25 deletion syndrome patients.
Our results, and previous data, show that ocular dysgenesis and hearing impairment are the two most highly penetrant phenotypes of the 6p25 deletion syndrome. While deletion of the forkhead box C1 gene (FOXC1) probably underlies the ocular dysgenesis, no gene in this region is known to be involved in hearing impairment.
Ocular dysgenesis and hearing impairment are the two most common phenotypes of 6p25 deletion syndrome. We conclude that a locus for dominant hearing loss is present at 6p25 and that this locus is restricted to a region distal to D6S1617. Molecular characterization of more 6p25 deletion patients will aid in refinement of this locus and the identification of a gene involved in dominant hearing loss.
PMCID: PMC455682  PMID: 15219231

Results 1-16 (16)