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1.  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
2.  Photoreceptor Pathology in the X-Linked Retinoschisis (XLRS) Mouse Results in Delayed Rod Maturation and Impaired Light Driven Transducin Translocation 
Light-activated movement of transducin-α (Gαt1) from rod photoreceptor outer segments (ROS) into inner segments (IS) enables rods to rapidly adapt to changes in light intensity. The threshold light intensity at which Gαt1 translocates from ROS into IS is primarily determined by the rates of activation and inactivation of Gαt1. Loss- of- expression of the retina specific cell surface protein, retinoschsin (Rs1-KO), led to a dramatic 3–10 fold increase, depending on age, in the luminance threshold for transducin translocation from ROS into IS compared with wild-type control. In contrast, arrestin translocated from IS into ROS at the same light intensity both in WT and Rs1-KO mice. Biochemical changes, including reduced transducin protein levels and enhanced transducin GTPase activity, explain the shift in light intensity threshold for Gαt1 translocation in Rs1-KO mice. These changes in Rs1-KO mice were also associated with age related alterations in photoreceptor morphology and transcription factor expression that suggest delayed photoreceptor maturation.
PMCID: PMC4212896  PMID: 24664744
Transducin; Arrestin; Translocation; Photoreceptors; Retinoschisis
3.  Test–Retest Intervisit Variability of Functional and Structural Parameters in X-Linked Retinoschisis 
To examine the variability of four outcome measures that could be used to address safety and efficacy in therapeutic trials with X-linked juvenile retinoschisis.
Seven men with confirmed mutations in the RS1 gene were evaluated over four visits spanning 6 months. Assessments included visual acuity, full-field electroretinograms (ERG), microperimetric macular sensitivity, and retinal thickness measured by optical coherence tomography (OCT). Eyes were separated into Better or Worse Eye groups based on acuity at baseline. Repeatability coefficients were calculated for each parameter and jackknife resampling used to derive 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
The threshold for statistically significant change in visual acuity ranged from three to eight letters. For ERG a-wave, an amplitude reduction greater than 56% would be considered significant. For other parameters, variabilities were lower in the Worse Eye group, likely a result of floor effects due to collapse of the schisis pockets and/or retinal atrophy. The criteria for significant change (Better/Worse Eye) for three important parameters were: ERG b/a-wave ratio (0.44/0.23), point wise sensitivity (10.4/7.0 dB), and central retinal thickness (31%/18%).
The 95% CI range for visual acuity, ERG, retinal sensitivity, and central retinal thickness relative to baseline are described for this cohort of participants with X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XLRS).
Translational Relevance
A quantitative understanding of the variability of outcome measures is vital to establishing the safety and efficacy limits for therapeutic trials of XLRS patients.
PMCID: PMC4187428  PMID: 25346871
XLRS; retinoschisis; electroretinogram; OCT; MP1
4.  Transgenic Expression of Constitutively Active RAC1 Disrupts Mouse Rod Morphogenesis 
Dominant-active RAC1 rescues photoreceptor structure in Drosophila rhodopsin-null mutants, indicating an important role in morphogenesis. This report assesses the morphogenetic effect of activated RAC1 during mammalian rod photoreceptor development using transgenic mice that express constitutively active (CA) RAC1.
Transgenic mice were generated by expressing CA RAC1 under control of the Rhodopsin promoter, and morphological features of the photoreceptors were evaluated by histology, immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy. Function was evaluated by electroretinography. Potential protein partners of CA RAC1 were identified by co-immunoprecipitation of retinal extracts.
Constitutively active RAC1 expression in differentiating rods disrupted outer retinal lamination as early as postnatal day (P)6, and many photoreceptor cell nuclei were displaced apically into the presumptive subretinal space. These photoreceptors did not develop normal inner and outer segments and had abnormal placement of synaptic elements. Some photoreceptor nuclei were also mislocalized into the inner nuclear layer. Extensive photoreceptor degeneration was subsequently observed in the adult animal. Constitutively active RAC1 formed a complex with the polarity protein PAR6 and with microtubule motor dynein in mouse retina. The normal localization of the PAR6 complex was disrupted in CA RAC1-expressing rod photoreceptors.
Constitutively active RAC1 had a profound negative effect on mouse rod cell viability and development. Rod photoreceptors in the CA RAC1 retina exhibited a defect in polarity and migration. Constitutively active RAC1 disrupted rod morphogenesis and gave a phenotype resembling that found in the Crumbs mutant. PAR6 and dynein are two potential downstream effectors that may be involved in CA RAC1-mediated defective mouse photoreceptor morphogenesis.
Active RAC1 is a key player in Drosophila photoreceptor morphogenesis. We assessed the morphogenetic role of constitutively active (CA) RAC1 in mouse rod photoreceptors and found that CA RAC1 disrupted photoreceptor positioning and polarity during development.
PMCID: PMC4001786  PMID: 24651551
RAC1; mouse rod morphogenesis; lamination; positioning and polarity; photoreceptor degeneration
5.  AIPL1 implicated in the pathogenesis of two cases of autosomal recessive retinal degeneration 
Molecular Vision  2014;20:1-14.
To localize and identify the gene and mutations causing autosomal recessive retinal dystrophy in two consanguineous Pakistani families.
Consanguineous families from Pakistan were ascertained to be affected with autosomal recessive retinal degeneration. All affected individuals underwent thorough ophthalmologic examinations. Blood samples were collected, and genomic DNA was extracted using a salting out procedure. Genotyping was performed using microsatellite markers spaced at approximately 10 cM intervals. Two-point linkage analysis was performed with the lod score method. Direct DNA sequencing of amplified genomic DNA was performed for mutation screening of candidate genes.
Genome-wide linkage scans yielded a lod score of 3.05 at θ=0 for D17S1832 and 3.82 at θ=0 for D17S938, localizing the disease gene to a 12.22 cM (6.64 Mb) region flanked by D17S1828 and D17S1852 for family 61032 and family 61227, which contains aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein-like 1 (AIPL1), a gene previously implicated in recessive Leber congenital amaurosis and autosomal dominant cone-rod dystrophy. Sequencing of AIPL1 showed a homozygous c.773G>C (p.Arg258Pro) sequence change in all affected individuals of family 61032 and a homozygous c.465G>T (p.(H93_Q155del)) change in all affected members of family 61227.
The results strongly suggest that the c.773G>C (p.R258P) and c.465G>T (p.(H93_Q155del)) mutations in AIPL1 cause autosomal recessive retinal degeneration in these consanguineous Pakistani families.
PMCID: PMC3888496  PMID: 24426771
6.  Centrifugal Expansion of Fundus Autofluorescence Patterns in Stargardt Disease Over Time 
Archives of ophthalmology  2011;130(2):171-179.
Changing lipofuscin and melanin content in RPE cells has been hypothesized to contribute to Stargardt disease pathogenesis. Longitudinal study of autofluorescence in Stargardt disease which reflect changing fluorophore compositions can reveal aspects of disease progression not previously evident.
We examined the temporal-spatial patterns of fundus autofluorescence with excitation at both 488 nm (standard fundus autofluorescence, FAF) and 795nm (near infrared autofluorescence, NIA) in a longitudinal case series involving 8 eyes of 4 patients (range of follow-up = 11 to 57 months; mean = 39 months). Image processing was performed to analyze spatial and temporal cross-modality associations.
Longitudinal FAF imaging of fleck lesions revealed hyperautofluorescent lesions that extended in a centrifugal direction from the fovea with time. Patterns of spread were non-random and followed a radial path that leaves behind a trail of diminishing autofluorescence. Longitudinal NIA imaging also demonstrated centrifugal lesion spread, but with fewer hyperautofluorescent lesions, suggestive of more transient hyperautofluorescence and more rapid decay at longer wavelengths. FAF and NIA abnormalities were spatially correlated to each other, and together reflect systematic progressions in fleck distribution and fluorophore composition occurring during the natural history of the disease.
Stargardt disease fleck lesions do not evolve randomly in location but instead follow consistent patterns of radial expansion and a systematic decay of autofluorescence that reflect changing lipofuscin and melanin compositions in RPE cells. These progressive foveal-to-peripheral changes are helpful in elucidating molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying Stargardt disease and may constitute potential outcome measures in clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3768260  PMID: 21987580
7.  Mutations in RPGR and RP2 Account for 15% of Males with Simplex Retinal Degenerative Disease 
To determine the proportion of male patients presenting simplex retinal degenerative disease (RD: retinitis pigmentosa [RP] or cone/cone-rod dystrophy [COD/CORD]) with mutations in the X-linked retinal degeneration genes RPGR and RP2.
Simplex males were defined as patients with no known affected family members. Patients were excluded if they had a family history of parental consanguinity. Blood samples from a total of 214 simplex males with a diagnosis of retinal degeneration were collected for genetic analysis. The patients were screened for mutations in RPGR and RP2 by direct sequencing of PCR-amplified genomic DNA.
We identified pathogenic mutations in 32 of the 214 patients screened (15%). Of the 29 patients with a diagnosis of COD/CORD, four mutations were identified in the ORF15 mutational hotspot of the RPGR gene. Of the 185 RP patients, three patients had mutations in RP2 and 25 had RPGR mutations (including 12 in the ORF15 region).
This study represents mutation screening of RPGR and RP2 in the largest cohort, to date, of simplex males affected with RP or COD/CORD. Our results demonstrate a substantial contribution of RPGR mutations to retinal degenerations, and in particular, to simplex RP. Based on our findings, we suggest that RPGR should be considered as a first tier gene for screening isolated males with retinal degeneration.
Identification of mutations in 15% of the screened patients has important implications for guiding clinicians who are ordering genetic testing and provides a strong argument for screening the RPGR gene in simplex cases of retinal degenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3522443  PMID: 23150612
8.  Loss of Retinoschisin (RS1) Cell Surface Protein in Maturing Mouse Rod Photoreceptors Elevates the Luminance Threshold for Light-Driven Translocation of Transducin But Not Arrestin 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(38):13010-13021.
Loss of retinoschisin (RS1) in Rs1 knock-out (Rs1–KO) retina produces a post-photoreceptor phenotype similar to X-linked retinoschisis in young males. However, Rs1 is expressed strongly in photoreceptors, and Rs1–KO mice have early reduction in the electroretinogram a-wave. We examined light-activated transducin and arrestin translocation in young Rs1–KO mice as a marker for functional abnormalities in maturing rod photoreceptors. We found a progressive reduction in luminance threshold for transducin translocation in wild-type (WT) retinas between postnatal days P18 and P60. At P21, the threshold in Rs1–KO retinas was 10-fold higher than WT, but it decreased to <2.5-fold higher by P60. Light-activated arrestin translocation and re-translocation of transducin in the dark were not affected. Rs1–KO rod outer segment (ROS) length was significantly shorter than WT at P21 but was comparable with WT at P60. These findings suggested a delay in the structural and functional maturation of Rs1–KO ROS. Consistent with this, transcription factors CRX and NRL, which are fundamental to maturation of rod protein expression, were reduced in ROS of Rs1–KO mice at P21 but not at P60. Expression of transducin was 15–30% lower in P21 Rs1–KO ROS and transducin GTPase hydrolysis was nearly twofold faster, reflecting a 1.7- to 2.5-fold increase in RGS9 (regulator of G-protein signaling) level. Transduction protein expression and activity levels were similar to WT at P60. Transducin translocation threshold elevation indicates photoreceptor functional abnormalities in young Rs1–KO mice. Rapid reduction in threshold coupled with age-related changes in transduction protein levels and transcription factor expression are consistent with delayed maturation of Rs1–KO photoreceptors.
PMCID: PMC3752084  PMID: 22993419
Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) is one of the most studied neurotrophic factors for neuroprotection of the retina. A large body of evidence demonstrates that CNTF promotes rod photoreceptor survival in almost all animal models. Recent studies indicate that CNTF also promotes cone photoreceptor survival and cone outer segment regeneration in the degenerating retina and improves cone function in dogs with congenital achromotopsia. In addition, CNTF is a neuroprotective factor and an axogenesis factor for retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). This review focuses on the effects of exogenous CNTF on photoreceptors and RGCs in the mammalian retina and the potential clinical application of CNTF for retinal degenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3288688  PMID: 22182585
CNTF; photoreceptors; retinal ganglion cells; retinal degeneration; neuroprotection; photoreceptor plasticity
10.  Novel mutations in RPE65 identified in consanguineous Pakistani families with retinal dystrophy 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:1554-1564.
To identify pathogenic mutations responsible for retinal dystrophy in three consanguineous Pakistani families.
A thorough ophthalmic examination including fundus examination and electroretinography was performed, and blood samples were collected from all participating members. Genomic DNA was extracted, and genome-wide linkage and/or exclusion analyses were completed with fluorescently labeled short tandem repeat microsatellite markers. Two-point Lod scores were calculated, and coding exons along with exon-intron boundaries of RPE65 gene were sequenced, bidirectionally.
Ophthalmic examinations of the patients affected in all three families suggested retinal dystrophy with an early, most probably congenital, onset. Genome-wide linkage and/or exclusion analyses localized the critical interval in all three families to chromosome 1p31 harboring RPE65. Bidirectional sequencing of RPE65 identified a splice acceptor site variation in intron 2: c.95–1G>A, a single base substitution in exon 3: c.179T>C, and a single base deletion in exon 5: c.361delT in the three families, respectively. All three variations segregated with the disease phenotype in their respective families and were absent from ethnically matched control chromosomes.
These results strongly suggest that causal mutations in RPE65 are responsible for retinal dystrophy in the affected individuals of these consanguineous Pakistani families.
PMCID: PMC3716412  PMID: 23878505
11.  Characterization of novel RS1 exonic deletions in juvenile X-linked retinoschisis 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:2209-2216.
X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XLRS) is a vitreoretinal dystrophy characterized by schisis (splitting) of the inner layers of the neuroretina. Mutations within the retinoschisis (RS1) gene are responsible for this disease. The mutation spectrum consists of amino acid substitutions, splice site variations, small indels, and larger genomic deletions. Clinically, genomic deletions are rarely reported. Here, we characterize two novel full exonic deletions: one encompassing exon 1 and the other spanning exons 4–5 of the RS1 gene. We also report the clinical findings in these patients with XLRS with two different exonic deletions.
Unrelated XLRS men and boys and their mothers (if available) were enrolled for molecular genetics evaluation. The patients also underwent ophthalmologic examination and in some cases electroretinogram (ERG) recording. All the exons and the flanking intronic regions of the RS1 gene were analyzed with direct sequencing. Two patients with exonic deletions were further evaluated with array comparative genomic hybridization to define the scope of the genomic aberrations. After the deleted genomic region was identified, primer walking followed by direct sequencing was used to determine the exact breakpoints.
Two novel exonic deletions of the RS1 gene were identified: one including exon 1 and the other spanning exons 4 and 5. The exon 1 deletion extends from the 5′ region of the RS1 gene (including the promoter) through intron 1 (c.(−35)-1723_c.51+2664del4472). The exon 4–5 deletion spans introns 3 to intron 5 (c.185–1020_c.522+1844del5764).
Here we report two novel exonic deletions within the RS1 gene locus. We have also described the clinical presentations and hypothesized the genomic mechanisms underlying these schisis phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3820431  PMID: 24227916
12.  Mutations in the small nuclear riboprotein 200 kDa gene (SNRNP200) cause 1.6% of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa 
Molecular Vision  2013;19:2407-2417.
The purpose of this project was to determine the spectrum and frequency of mutations in the small nuclear riboprotein 200 kDa gene (SNRNP200) that cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP).
A well-characterized adRP cohort of 251 families was tested for mutations in the exons and intron/exon junctions of SNRNP200 using fluorescent dideoxy sequencing. An additional 21 adRP families from the eyeGENE® Network were tested for possible mutations. Bioinformatic and segregation analysis was performed on novel variants.
SNRNP200 mutations were identified in seven of the families tested. Two previously reported mutations, p.Arg681Cys and p.Ser1087Leu, were found in two families each. One family had the previously reported p.Arg681His mutation. Two novel SNRNP200 variants, p.Pro682Ser and p.Ala542Val, were also identified in one family each. Bioinformatic and segregation analyses suggested that these novel variants are likely to be pathogenic. Clinical examination of patients with SNRNP200 mutations showed a wide range of clinical symptoms and severity, including one instance of non-penetrance.
Mutations in SNRNP200 caused 1.6% of disease in our adRP cohort. Pathogenic mutations were found primarily in exons 16 and 25, but the novel p.Ala542Val mutation in exon 13 suggests that variation in other genetic regions is also responsible for causing dominant disease. SNRNP200 mutations were associated with a wide range of clinical symptoms similar to those of individuals with other splice-factor gene mutations.
PMCID: PMC3850977  PMID: 24319334
13.  Exome Analysis Identified a Novel Mutation in the RBP4 Gene in a Consanguineous Pedigree with Retinal Dystrophy and Developmental Abnormalities 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50205.
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a common form of retinal degeneration characterized by photoreceptor degeneration and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) atrophy causing loss of visual field and acuities. Exome sequencing identified a novel homozygous splice site variant (c.111+1G>A) in the gene encoding retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4). This change segregated with early onset, progressive, and severe autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP) in an eight member consanguineous pedigree of European ancestry. Additionally, one patient exhibited developmental abnormalities including patent ductus arteriosus and chorioretinal and iris colobomas. The second patient developed acne from young age and extending into the 5th decade. Both patients had undetectable levels of RBP4 in the serum suggesting that this mutation led to either mRNA or protein instability resulting in a null phenotype. In addition, the patients exhibited severe vitamin A deficiency, and diminished serum retinol levels. Circulating transthyretin levels were normal. This study identifies the RBP4 splice site change as the cause of RP in this pedigree. The presence of developmental abnormalities and severe acne in patients with retinal degeneration may indicate the involvement of genes that regulate vitamin A absorption, transport and metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3506607  PMID: 23189188
14.  Biology of Retinoschisin 
PMCID: PMC3475158  PMID: 22183371
X-linked retinoschisis; Retinoschisin; Discoidin domain; Mutations; Retina; Photoreceptors; Bipolar cells; Synapse; Gene therapy
15.  Association of Pathogenic Mutations in TULP1 With Retinitis Pigmentosa in Consanguineous Pakistani Families 
Archives of ophthalmology  2011;129(10):1351-1357.
To identify pathogenic mutations responsible for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in 5 consanguineous Pakistani families.
Affected individuals in the families underwent a detailed ophthalmological examination that consisted of fundus photography and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected from all participating family members, and genomic DNA was extracted. A genome-wide linkage scan was performed, followed by exclusion analyses among our cohort of nuclear consanguineous families with microsatellite markers spanning the TULP1 locus on chromosome 6p. Two-point logarithm of odds scores were calculated, and all coding exons of TULP1 were sequenced bidirectionally.
The results of ophthalmological examinations among affected individuals in these 5 families were suggestive of retinitis pigmentosa. The genome-wide linkage scan localized the disease interval to chromosome 6p, harboring TULP1 in 1 of 5 families, and sequential analyses identified a single base pair substitution in TULP1 that results in threonine to alanine substitution (p.T380A). Subsequently, we investigated our entire cohort of families with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa and identified 4 additional families with linkage to chromosome 6p, all of them harboring a single base pair substitution in TULP1 that results in lysine to arginine substitution (p.K489R). Results of single-nucleotide polymorphism haplotype analyses were suggestive of a common founder in these 4 families.
Pathogenic mutations in TULP1 are responsible for the autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa phenotype in these consanguineous Pakistani families, with a single ancestral mutation in TULP1 causing the disease phenotype in 4 of 5 families.
Clinical Relevance
Clinical and molecular characterization of pathogenic mutations in TULP1 will increase our understanding of retinitis pigmentosa at a molecular level.
PMCID: PMC3463811  PMID: 21987678
16.  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
17.  GNAT1 Associated with Autosomal Recessive Congenital Stationary Night Blindness 
Congenital stationary night blindness is characterized by impaired night vision, decreased visual acuity, nystagmus, myopia, and strabismus. A genome-wide linkage scan was completed that localized the critical interval to the short arm of chromosome 3 and sequencing identified a novel missense mutation in GNAT1.
Congenital stationary night blindness is a nonprogressive retinal disorder manifesting as impaired night vision and is generally associated with other ocular symptoms, such as nystagmus, myopia, and strabismus. This study was conducted to further investigate the genetic basis of CSNB in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
A consanguineous family with multiple individuals manifesting cardinal symptoms of congenital stationary night blindness was ascertained. All family members underwent detailed ophthalmic examination, including fundus photographic examination and electroretinography. Blood samples were collected and genomic DNA was extracted. Exclusion and genome-wide linkage analyses were completed and two-point LOD scores were calculated. Bidirectional sequencing of GNAT1 was completed, and quantitative expression of Gnat1 transcript levels were investigated in ocular tissues at different postnatal intervals.
The results of ophthalmic examinations were suggestive of early-onset stationary night blindness with no extraocular anomalies. The genome-wide scan localized the critical interval to chromosome 3, region p22.1-p14.3, with maximum two-point LOD scores of 3.09 at θ = 0, flanked by markers D3S3522 and D3S1289. Subsequently, a missense mutation in GNAT1, p.D129G, was identified, which segregated within the family, consistent with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, and was not present in 192 ethnically matched control chromosomes. Expression analysis suggested that Gnat1 is expressed at approximately postnatal day (P)7 and is predominantly expressed in the retina.
These data suggest that a homozygous missense mutation in GNAT1 is associated with autosomal recessive stationary night blindness.
PMCID: PMC3339909  PMID: 22190596
18.  A Novel Locus for Autosomal Recessive Retinitis Pigmentosa in a Consanguineous Pakistani Family Maps to Chromosome 2p 
American Journal of Ophthalmology  2010;149(5):861-866.
To identify a disease locus for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
Prospective linkage study.
Blood samples were collected and genomic DNA was extracted. A genome-wide scan was performed using 382 polymorphic microsatellite markers on genomic DNA from 4 affected and 5 unaffected family members, and logarithm of odds scores were calculated.
A maximum 2-point logarithm of odds score of 3.14 at θ = 0 was obtained for marker D2S165 during the genome-wide scan. Fine mapping markers identified a 20.92-cM (19.98-Mb) interval flanked by D2S149 and D2S367 that cosegregates with the disease phenotype. Haplotype analyses further refined the critical interval, distal to D2S220 in a 12.31-cM (13.35-Mb) region that does not harbor any genes that previously have been associated with retinitis pigmentosa.
Linkage analysis identified a new locus for autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa that maps to chromosome 2p22.3-p24.1 in a consanguineous Pakistani family.
PMCID: PMC3399686  PMID: 20227676
19.  Nonsense mutation in MERTK causes autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in a consanguineous Pakistani family 
The British Journal of Ophthalmology  2010;94(8):1094-1099.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is one of the most common ophthalmic disorders affecting one in approximately 5000 people worldwide. A nuclear family was recruited from the Punjab province of Pakistan to study the genetic basis of autosomal recessive RP.
All affected individuals underwent a thorough ophthalmic examination and the disease was characterised based upon results for fundus photographs and electroretinogram recordings. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral leucocytes. Exclusion studies were performed with short tandem repeat (STR) markers flanking reported autosomal recessive RP loci. Haplotypes were constructed and results were statistically evaluated.
The results of exclusion analyses suggested that family PKRP173 was linked to chromosome 2q harbouring mer tyrosine kinase protooncogene (MERTK), a gene previously associated with autosomal recessive RP. Additional STR markers refined the critical interval and placed it in a 13.4 cM (17 Mb) region flanked by D2S293 proximally and D2S347 distally. Significant logarithm of odds (LOD) scores of 3.2, 3.25 and 3.18 at θ=0 were obtained with markers D2S1896, D2S2269 and D2S160. Sequencing of the coding exons of MERTK identified a mutation, c.718G→T in exon 4, which results in a premature termination of p.E240X that segregates with the disease phenotype in the family.
Our results strongly suggest that the nonsense mutation in MERTK, leading to premature termination of the protein, is responsible for RP phenotype in the affected individuals of the Pakistani family.
PMCID: PMC3393880  PMID: 20538656
20.  X-Linked Retinoschisis: RS1 Mutation Severity and Age Affect the ERG Phenotype in a Cohort of 68 Affected Male Subjects 
The authors evaluated retinal function using full-field ERG in 68 XLRS subjects who were examined at the National Eye Institute and identified a mutation in RS1. Using molecular modeling, they evaluated the molecular implications of different RS mutations on protein function. Based on such modeling, subjects were classified into two groups: those with less severe mutations and those with more severe mutations. The authors then examined the association between putative genotype severity and disease phenotype (ERG measurements).
To assess the effect of age and RS1 mutation on the phenotype of X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) subjects using the clinical electroretinogram (ERG) in a cross-sectional analysis.
Sixty-eight XLRS males 4.5 to 55 years of age underwent genotyping, and the retinoschisis (RS1) mutations were classified as less severe (27 subjects) or more severe (41 subjects) based on the putative impact on the protein. ERG parameters of retinal function were analyzed by putative mutation severity with age as a continuous variable.
The a-wave amplitude remained greater than the lower limit of normal (mean, −2 SD) for 72% of XLRS males and correlated with neither age nor mutation class. However, b-wave and b/a-ratio amplitudes were significantly lower in the more severe than in the less severe mutation groups and in older than in younger subjects. Subjects up to 10 years of age with more severe RS1 mutations had significantly greater b-wave amplitudes and faster a-wave trough implicit times than older subjects in this group.
RS1 mutation putative severity and age both had significant effects on retinal function in XLRS only in the severe mutation group, as judged by ERG analysis of the b-wave amplitude and the b/a-ratio, whereas the a-wave amplitude remained normal in most. A new observation was that increasing age (limited to those aged 55 and younger) caused a significant delay in XLRS b-wave onset (i.e., a-wave implicit time), even for those who retained considerable b-wave amplitudes. The delayed b-wave onset suggested that dysfunction of the photoreceptor synapse or of bipolar cells increases with age of XLRS subjects.
PMCID: PMC3302432  PMID: 22039241
21.  Molecular Mechanisms Leading to Null-protein Product from Retinoschisin (RS1) Signal-sequence Mutants in X-linked Retinoschisis (XLRS) Disease 
Human mutation  2010;31(11):1251-1260.
Retinoschisin (RS1) is a cell-surface adhesion molecule expressed by photoreceptor and bipolar cells of the retina. The 24-kDa protein encodes two conserved sequence motifs: the initial signal sequence targets the protein for secretion while the larger discoidin domain is implicated in cell adhesion. RS1 helps to maintain the structural organization of the retinal cell layers and promotes visual signal transduction. RS1 gene mutations cause X-linked retinoschisis disease (XLRS) in males, characterized by early-onset central vision loss. We analyzed the biochemical consequences of several RS1 signal-sequence mutants (c.1A>T, c.35T>A, c.38T>C, and c.52G>A) found in our subjects. Expression analysis in COS-7 cells demonstrates that they affect RS1 biosynthesis and result in an RS1 null phenotype by several different mechanisms. By comparison, discoidin-domain mutations generally lead to nonfunctional conformational variants that remain trapped inside the cell. XLRS disease has a broad heterogeneity in general, but subjects with the RS1 null-protein signal-sequence mutations are on the more severe end of the clinical phenotype. Results from the signal-sequence mutants are discussed in the context of the discoidin-domain mutations, clinical phenotypes, genotype–phenotype correlations, and implications for RS1 gene replacement therapy.
PMCID: PMC2991635  PMID: 20809529
retinoschisin; X-linked retinoschisis; XLRS; signal sequence; discoidin; splicing
22.  Retinoschisin (RS1) Interacts with Negatively Charged Lipid Bilayers in the presence of Ca2+: An Atomic Force Microscopy Study 
Biochemistry  2010;49(33):7023-7032.
Retinoschisin (RS1) is a retina-specific secreted protein encoding a conserved discoidin domain sequence. As an adhesion molecule, RS1 preserves the retinal cell architecture and promotes visual signal transduction. In young males, loss-of-function mutations in the X- linked retinoschisis gene (RS1) cause X-linked retinoschisis, a form of progressive blindness. Neither the structure of RS1 nor the nature of its anchoring and organization on the plasma membranes is fully understood. The discoidin C2 domains of coagulation factors V and VIII are known to interact with extracellular phosphatidylserine (PS). In this study we have used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study the interactions of murine retinoschisin (Rs1) with supported anionic lipid bilayers in the presence of Ca2+. The bilayers consisting of a single lipid, PS, and mixtures of lipids with or without PS were used. Consistent with previous X-ray diffraction studies, AFM imaging showed two distinct domains in pure PS bilayers when Ca2+ was present. Upon Rs1 adsorption, these PS and PS-containing mixed bilayers underwent fast and extensive reorganization. Protein localization was ascertained by immunolabeling. AFM imaging showed the Rs1 antibody bound exclusively to the calcium-rich ordered phase of the bilayers pointing to the sequestration of Rs1 within those domains. This was further supported by the increased mechanical strength of these domains after Rs1 binding. Besides, changes in bilayer thickness suggested that Rs1 was partially embedded into the bilayer. These findings support a model whereby the Rs1 protein binds to PS in the retinal cell plasma membranes in a calcium-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC2929131  PMID: 20677810
23.  At the Frontier of Vision Research—The National Eye Institute Celebrates 40 Years 
American journal of ophthalmology  2010;149(2):179-181.
PMCID: PMC2833339  PMID: 20103048
24.  Mutations in the β-subunit of rod phosphodiesterase identified in consanguineous Pakistani families with autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:1373-1380.
This study was designed to identify pathogenic mutations causing autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in consanguineous Pakistani families.
Two consanguineous families affected with autosomal recessive RP were identified from the Punjab Province of Pakistan. All affected individuals underwent a thorough ophthalmologic examination. Blood samples were collected, and genomic DNAs were extracted. Exclusion analysis was completed, and two-point LOD scores were calculated. Bidirectional sequencing of the β subunit of phosphodiesterase 6 (PDE6β) was completed.
During exclusion analyses both families localized to chromosome 4p, harboring PDE6β, a gene previously associated with autosomal recessive RP. Sequencing of PDE6β identified missense mutations: c.1655G>A (p.R552Q) and c.1160C>T (p.P387L) in families PKRP161 and PKRP183, respectively. Bioinformatic analyses suggested that both mutations are deleterious for the native three-dimensional structure of the PDE6β protein.
These results strongly suggest that mutations in PDE6β are responsible for the disease phenotype in the consanguineous Pakistani families.
PMCID: PMC3108895  PMID: 21655355
25.  Long-term 12 year follow-up of X-linked congenital retinoschisis 
Ophthalmic genetics  2010;31(3):114-125.
To investigate the retinal structure and function during the progression of X-linked retinoschisis (XLRS) from childhood to adulthood.
Ten patients clinically diagnosed with XLRS were investigated at 6–15 years of age (mean age 9 years) with a follow-up 8 to 14 years later (mean 12 years). The patients underwent regular ophthalmic examination as well as testing of best corrected visual acuity (BCVA), visual field (VF) and assessment of full-field electroretinography (ERG) during their first visit. During the follow-up, the same clinical protocols were repeated. In addition, macular structure and function was examined with multifocal electroretinography (mfERG) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). The patients were 18–25 years of age (mean age 21 years) at the follow-up examination. All exons and exon-intron boundaries of RS1-gene were sequenced for gene mutations in 9 out of the 10 patients.
Best corrected VA and VF were stable during this follow-up period. No significant progression in cone or rod function could be measured by full-field ERG. Multifocal electroretinography and OCT demonstrated a wide heterogeneity of macular changes in retinal structure and function at the time of follow-up visit. Three different mutations were detected in these nine patients, including a known nonsense mutation in exon 3, a novel insertion in exon 5 and an intronic mutation at 5' splice site of intron 3.
Clinical follow-up (mean 12 years) of ten young XLRS patients (mean age of 9 years) with a typical congenital retinoschisis phenotype revealed no significant decline in retinal function during this time period. MfERG and OCT demonstrated a wide variety of macular changes including structure and dysfunction. The XLRS disease was relatively stable during this period of observation and would afford opportunity for therapy studies to judge benefit against baseline and against the fellow eye.
PMCID: PMC2997439  PMID: 20569020
XLRS; genotype; phenotype; rate of progression

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