Purpose: Computer-assisted sampling of EST data contained within the UniGene human sequences collection is being used to establish a catalog of novel genes that are expressed exclusively or predominantly in the human retina. This provides a valuable source for candidate genes possibly involved in retinal degeneration. In this report we present the characterization of the C7orf9 gene locus encoding RFamide-related peptides (RFRPs) and its evaluation in dominant cystoid macular dystrophy (CYMD).
Methods: Bioinformatics and cDNA library screening were used to isolate the full-length cDNA sequence and to determine the genomic organization of C7orf9. Expression profiling was done by RT-PCR and Northern blot analysis. C7orf9 was evaluated as a candidate gene for CYMD by DNA sequencing and Southern blot analysis in two affected individuals from an extended Dutch CYMD family.
Results: The C7orf9 cDNA transcript consists of 1190 bp and is organized into 3 exons on the short arm of chromosome 7 within the critical region for CYMD. The transcript is specifically expressed in the retina but not in a large range of other human tissues. No disease-causing mutations or larger gene rearrangements were found.
Conclusions: We provide the genomic organization of the RFamide-related peptide gene, C7orf9, which encodes a precursor protein for at least two small neuropeptides, referred to as NPSF (alias RFRP-1) and NPVF (alias RFRP-3) and show that it is abundantly expressed in the human retina. Results of our comprehensive mutation analysis suggests that C7orf9 is not the CYMD gene.