Purpose: Several reports have shown that mutations in the ABCR gene can lead to Stargardt disease (STGD)/fundus flavimaculatus (FFM), autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (arRP), and autosomal recessive cone-rod dystrophy (arCRD). To assess the involvement of ABCR in these retinal dystrophies, the gene was screened in a panel of 70 patients of British origin.
Methods: Fifty-six patients exhibiting the STGD/FFM phenotype, 6 with arRP, and 8 with arCRD, were screened for mutations in the 50 exons of the ABCR gene by heteroduplex analysis and direct sequencing. Microsatellite marker haplotyping was used to determine ancestry.
Results: In the 70 patients analyzed, 31 sequence changes were identified, of which 20 were considered to be novel mutations, in a variety of phenotypes. An identical haplotype was associated with the same pair of in-cis alterations in 5 seemingly unrelated patients and their affected siblings with STGD/FFM. Four of the aforementioned patients were found to carry three alterations in the coding sequence of the ABCR gene, with two of them being in-cis.
Conclusions: These results suggest that ABCR is a relatively polymorphic gene. Because putative mutations have been identified thus far only in 25 of 70 patients, of whom only 8 are compound heterozygotes, a large number of mutations have yet to be ascertained. The disease haplotype seen in the 5 patients carrying the same "complex" allele is consistent with the presence of a common ancestor.