A molecular study of the rhodopsin locus in patients with retinitis pigmentosa

Joseph Anthony Rodriguez, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


DNA for this study was collected from a sample of 133 retinitis pigmentosa (RP) patients and the rhodopsin locus molecularly analyzed by linkage and for disease specific mutations. The cohort of patients consisted of 85 individuals diagnosed with autosomal dominant RP (adRP), and 48 patients representing other forms of retinitis pigmentosa or retinal dystrophy related disease. In three large families with adRP rhodopsin was excluded from linkage to the disease locus. A search for subtle mutations in the rhodopsin coding region using single strand conformational polymorphisms (SSCP) and sequencing detected a total of 14 unique sequence variants in 24 unrelated patients. These variants included one splicing variant, 5168 -1G-A, one deletion variant of 17 base pairs causing a frame shift at codon 332, and 12 misense variants: Pro23His, Leu46Arg, Gly106Trp, Arg135Pro, Pro171Glu, Pro180Ala, Glu181Lys, Asp190Asn, His211Arg, Ser270Arg, Leu328Pro and Pro347Thr. All but three of the missense variants change amino acids that are evolutionarily conserved. The Pro23His mutation was found in 10 unrelated individuals with family histories of adRP and not in any normal controls (over 80 chromosomes tested). The Pro180Ala mutation was present in a patient with simplex RP and probably represents a new mutation. Three normal polymorphic nucleotide substitutions, A-269-G, T-3982-C, and G-5145-A, were also identified. We conclude, based on this study, that 25% of adRP cases are attributable to rhodopsin mutations. Clinical data, including ERG results and visual field testing, was available for patients with eleven different mutations. The eleven patients were all diagnosed with RP, however the severity of the disease varied with five patients mildly affected and diagnosed with type II adRP and 5 patients severely affected and diagnosed with type I adRP. The patient with simplex RP was mildly affected. The location of the mutations within the rhodopsin protein was randomly associated with the severity of the disease in those patients evaluated. However, four mutations, Pro23His, Leu46Arg, Pro347Thr, and 5168 -1G-A, are particularly interesting. The Pro23His mutation appears to have radiated from a recent common ancestor of the affected patients as all of them share a common haplotype at the rhodopsin locus. The Leu46Arg mutation causes an unusually severe form of RP. Hydropathy analysis of the mutated sequence revealed a marked change in the hydrophobicity of this first transmembrane spanning region. Codon 347 has been the target of multiple mutations with at least six documented changes at the position, significantly more than expected by a random distribution of mutations. Finally the splice-site variant is extremely variable in its expression in the family studied. Similar mutations have been reported in other cases of adRP and postulated to be involved in autosomal recessive RP (arRP). Mechanisms to account for the variable expression of rhodopsin mutations in relation to RP heterogeneity are discussed. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Genetics|Molecular biology|Ophthalmology

Recommended Citation

Rodriguez, Joseph Anthony, "A molecular study of the rhodopsin locus in patients with retinitis pigmentosa" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9526593.