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Ophthalmology - Public Health and Epidemiology

Allelic Heterogeneity and Genetic Modifier Loci Contribute to Clinical Variation in Males with X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa Due to RPGR Mutations
Published: Friday, August 12, 2011
Author: Abigail T. Fahim et al.

by Abigail T. Fahim, Sara J. Bowne, Lori S. Sullivan, Kaylie D. Webb, Jessica T. Williams, Dianna K. Wheaton, David G. Birch, Stephen P. Daiger

Mutations in RPGR account for over 70% of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XlRP), characterized by retinal degeneration and eventual blindness. The clinical consequences of RPGR mutations are highly varied, even among individuals with the same mutation: males demonstrate a wide range of clinical severity, and female carriers may or may not be affected. This study describes the phenotypic diversity in a cohort of 98 affected males from 56 families with RPGR mutations, and demonstrates the contribution of genetic factors (i.e., allelic heterogeneity and genetic modifiers) to this diversity. Patients were categorized as grade 1 (mild), 2 (moderate) or 3 (severe) according to specific clinical criteria. Patient DNAs were genotyped for coding SNPs in 4 candidate modifier genes with products known to interact with RPGR protein: RPGRIP1, RPGRIP1L, CEP290, and IQCB1. Family-based association testing was performed using PLINK. A wide range of clinical severity was observed both between and within families. Patients with mutations in exons 1–14 were more severely affected than those with ORF15 mutations, and patients with predicted null alleles were more severely affected than those predicted to make RPGR protein. Two SNPs showed association with severe disease: the minor allele (N) of I393N in IQCB1 (p?=?0.044) and the common allele (R) of R744Q in RPGRIP1L (p?=?0.049). These data demonstrate that allelic heterogeneity contributes to phenotypic diversity in XlRP and suggest that this may depend on the presence or absence of RPGR protein. In addition, common variants in 2 proteins known to interact with RPGR are associated with severe disease in this cohort.