Purpose: To determine the type of ABCR mutations that segregate in a family that manifests both Stargardt disease (STGD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and the functional consequences of the underlying mutations.
Methods: Direct sequencing of all 50 exons and flanking intronic regions of ABCR was performed for the STGD- and RP-affected relatives. RNA hybridization, Western blot analysis, and azido-adenosine triphosphate (ATP) labeling was used to determine the effect of disease-associated ABCR mutations in an in vitro assay system.
Results: Compound heterozygous missense mutations were identified in patients with STGD and RP. STGD-affected individual AR682-03 was compound heterozygous for the mutation 2588G-->C and a complex allele, [W1408R; R1640W]. RP-affected individuals AR682-04 and-05 were compound heterozygous for the complex allele [W1408R; R1640W] and the missense mutation V767D. Functional analysis of the mutation V767D by Western blot and ATP binding revealed a severe reduction in protein expression. In vitro analysis of ABCR protein with the mutations W1408R and R1640W showed a moderate effect of these individual mutations on expression and ATP-binding; the complex allele [W1408R; R1640W] caused a severe reduction in protein expression.
Conclusions: These data reveal that missense ABCR mutations may be associated with RP. Functional analysis reveals that the RP-associated missense ABCR mutations are likely to be functionally null. These studies of the complex allele W1408R; R1640W suggest a synergistic effect of the individual mutations. These data are congruent with a model in which RP is associated with homozygous null mutations and with the notion that severity of retinal disease is inversely related to residual ABCR activity.