Objectives: To characterize a disease-associated haplotype in 7 families with autosomal dominant Stargardt-like macular dystrophy and to determine whether these families share a common ancestor.
Methods: Twenty-five polymorphic DNA markers spanning known dominant Stargardt-like gene loci were used to determine the haplotype associated with disease. In addition, an extensive genealogical investigation searching for a common ancestor shared by all of the 7 families was performed.
Results: We clinically evaluated 171 patients and genotyped 145 samples. The same DNA haplotype on chromosome 6q16 was shared by all evaluated affected members within the 7 families. In addition, we were able to genealogically join all of the families into one larger family consisting of 31 branches and 2314 individuals. Twenty-seven branches have known living descendants, with 7 branches having affected family members. In addition, we refined the critical region for the gene to approximately 1000 kilobases (kb) and eliminated part or all of 9 candidate disease-causing genes.
Conclusions: Our study indicates that most reported cases of autosomal dominant Stargardt-like macular dystrophy in North America are part of a single larger family associated with a gene locus on chromosome 6q16. Furthermore, the DNA haplotype associated with disease is useful in excluding individuals with phenotypically similar retinal conditions.
Clinical relevance: The disease-associated haplotype allows for more accurate genetic counseling to be given to individuals with a Stargardt-like phenotype inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.