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      Association of a Homozygous Nonsense Mutation in the ABCA4 (ABCR) Gene with Cone-Rod Dystrophy Phenotype in an Italian Family

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          Genetic variation in the ABCA4 (ABCR) gene has been associated with several distinct retinal phenotypes, including Stargardt disease/fundus flavimaculatus (STGD/FFM), cone-rod dystrophy (CRD), retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration. The current model of genotype/phenotype association suggests that patients harboring deleterious mutations in both ABCR alleles would develop RP-like retinal pathology. Here we describe ABCA4-associated phenotypes, including a proband with a homozygous nonsense mutation in a family from Southern Italy. The proband had been originally diagnosed with STGD. Ophthalmologic examination included kinetic perimetry, electrophysiological studies and fluorescein angiography. DNA of the affected individual and family members was analyzed for variants in all 50 exons of the ABCA4 gene by screening on the ABCR400 microarray. A homozygous nonsense mutation 2971G>T (G991X) was detected in a patient initially diagnosed with STGD based on funduscopic evidence, including bull’s eye depigmentation of the fovea and flecks at the posterior pole extending to the mid-peripheral retina. Since this novel nucleotide substitution results in a truncated, nonfunctional, ABCA4 protein, the patient was examined in-depth for the severity of the disease phenotype. Indeed, subsequent electrophysiological studies determined severely reduced cone amplitude as compared to the rod amplitude, suggesting the diagnosis of CRD. ABCR400 microarray is an efficient tool for determining causal genetic variation, including new mutations. A homozygous protein-truncating mutation in ABCA4 can cause a phenotype ranging from STGD to CRD as diagnosed at an early stage of the disease. Only a combination of comprehensive genotype/phenotype correlation studies will determine the proper diagnosis and prognosis of ABCA4-associated pathology.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Isolation and one-step preparation of A2E and iso-A2E, fluorophores from human retinal pigment epithelium.

          Age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness for which no satisfactory treatments exist, leads to a gradual decrease in central high acuity vision. The accumulation of fluorescent materials, called lipofuscin, in retinal pigment epithelial cells of the aging retina is most pronounced in the macula. One of the fluorophores of retinal pigment epithelial lipofuscin has been characterized as A2E, a pyridinium bis-retinoid, which is derived from two molecules of vitamin A aldehyde and one molecule of ethanolamine. An investigation aimed at optimizing the in vitro synthesis of A2E has resulted in the one-step biomimetic preparation of this pigment in 49% yield, readily producing more than 50 mg in one step. These results have allowed for the optimization of HPLC conditions so that nanogram quantities of A2E can be detected from extracts of tissue samples. By using 5% of the extract from individual aged human eyes, this protocol has led to the quantification of A2E and the characterization of iso-A2E, a new A2E double bond isomer; all-trans-retinol and 13-cis-retinol also have been identified in these HPLC chromatograms. Exposure of either A2E or iso-A2E to light gives rise to 4:1 A2E:iso-A2E equilibrium mixtures, similar to the composition of these two pigments in eye extracts. A2E and iso-A2E may exhibit surfactant properties arising from their unique wedge-shaped structures.
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            A comprehensive survey of sequence variation in the ABCA4 (ABCR) gene in Stargardt disease and age-related macular degeneration.

             T Grimm,  E Sylla,  H. Weber (2000)
            Stargardt disease (STGD) is a common autosomal recessive maculopathy of early and young-adult onset and is caused by alterations in the gene encoding the photoreceptor-specific ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter (ABCA4). We have studied 144 patients with STGD and 220 unaffected individuals ascertained from the German population, to complete a comprehensive, population-specific survey of the sequence variation in the ABCA4 gene. In addition, we have assessed the proposed role for ABCA4 in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common cause of late-onset blindness, by studying 200 affected individuals with late-stage disease. Using a screening strategy based primarily on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, we have identified in the three study groups a total of 127 unique alterations, of which 90 have not been previously reported, and have classified 72 as probable pathogenic mutations. Of the 288 STGD chromosomes studied, mutations were identified in 166, resulting in a detection rate of approximately 58%. Eight different alleles account for 61% of the identified disease alleles, and at least one of these, the L541P-A1038V complex allele, appears to be a founder mutation in the German population. When the group with AMD and the control group were analyzed with the same methodology, 18 patients with AMD and 12 controls were found to harbor possible disease-associated alterations. This represents no significant difference between the two groups; however, for detection of modest effects of rare alleles in complex diseases, the analysis of larger cohorts of patients may be required.
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              Mutations in the ABCA4 (ABCR) gene are the major cause of autosomal recessive cone-rod dystrophy.

              The photoreceptor cell-specific ATP-binding cassette transporter gene (ABCA4; previously denoted "ABCR") is mutated, in most patients, with autosomal recessive (AR) Stargardt disease (STGD1) or fundus flavimaculatus (FFM). In addition, a few cases with AR retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and AR cone-rod dystrophy (CRD) have been found to have ABCA4 mutations. To evaluate the importance of the ABCA4 gene as a cause of AR CRD, we selected 5 patients with AR CRD and 15 patients from Germany and The Netherlands with isolated CRD. Single-strand conformation-polymorphism analysis and sequencing revealed 19 ABCA4 mutations in 13 (65%) of 20 patients. In six patients, mutations were identified in both ABCA4 alleles; in seven patients, mutations were detected in one allele. One complex ABCA4 allele (L541P;A1038V) was found exclusively in German patients with CRD; one patient carried this complex allele homozygously, and five others were compound heterozygous. These findings suggest that mutations in the ABCA4 gene are the major cause of AR CRD. A primary role of the ABCA4 gene in STGD1/FFM and AR CRD, together with the gene's involvement in an as-yet-unknown proportion of cases with AR RP, strengthens the idea that mutations in the ABCA4 gene could be the most frequent cause of inherited retinal dystrophy in humans.

                Author and article information

                Ophthalmic Res
                Ophthalmic Research
                S. Karger AG
                April 2004
                17 March 2004
                : 36
                : 2
                : 82-88
                aDepartment of Ophthalmology, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy; bDepartments of Ophthalmology and cPathology, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., USA
                76886 Ophthalmic Res 2004;36:82–88
                © 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 36, Pages: 7
                Original Paper


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