Investigating the pathogenicity of mutations in two ubiquitously expressed housekeeping genes that cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa

Catherine Jean Spellicy, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The purpose of this dissertation research was to investigate potential mechanisms through which mutations in two ubiquitously expressed genes, inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 1 (IMPDH1) and pre-mRNA processing factor 31 (PRPF31), cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) but have no other apparent clinical consequences. Basic properties of the gene and gene product, such as expression and protein levels, were examined. The purpose of our research is to understand the genetic basis of inherited retinopathies such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is a heterogeneous retinal dystrophy that affects approximately one in 3,700 individuals, making it the most common heritable retinal degenerative disease worldwide. Currently, mutations in 35 genes are known to cause RP and additional loci have been mapped but the underlying gene is not yet known. Often the genes associated with RP are integral to the biological processes underlying vision, making their role in retinal disease easy to explain. However, the mechanisms by which other genes cause RP are not apparent, especially widely-expressed genes. For IMPDH1, this research characterized the enzymatic properties of retinal isoforms. Results show that the retinal isoforms have enzymatic functions similar to the previously known canonical IMPDH1 whether or not an adRP pigmentosa mutation is included in the protein. For PRPF31, this research tested the hypothesis that functional haploinsufficiency is the cause of disease and relates to nonpenetrance in some individuals. Studies in patients with known mutations show that haploinsufficiency is the likely cause of disease, however, we did not confirm that non-penetrant individuals are protected from disease via increased expression of the wild type allele. Information gleaned from these functional studies, and the testing methods developed in tandem, will contribute to future research on disease mechanism related to adRP.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Spellicy, Catherine Jean, "Investigating the pathogenicity of mutations in two ubiquitously expressed housekeeping genes that cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3394531.