Mutations in the human vitelliform macular dystrophy type 2 (VMD2) gene are known to cause autosomal dominant Best macular dystrophy (BMD), a degenerative disorder of the central retina. VMD2, together with VMD2L1, VMD2L2 and VMD2L3, belong to a closely related gene family characterized by several transmembrane (TM) spanning helical domains and an invariant arginine, phenylalanine and proline (RFP) tripeptide motif, thus termed VMD2 RFP-TM. The four genes are thought to encode a novel family of anion channels. We now report the cloning and characterization of the murine orthologs by combining biocomputational analyses and molecular genetic approaches. While the murine Vmd2, Vmd2l1 and Vmd2l3 genes are functional, murine Vmd2l2p was found to be a non-transcribed pseudogene. Expression profiling of the murine Vmd2 RFP-TM family members revealed tissue-restricted expression with predominant transcription of Vmd2 in testis, of Vmd2l1 in colon and of Vmd2l3 in heart. Differential splicing was observed for Vmd2l3 in a number of tissues (e.g. in brain, retina/RPE, kidney) although the functional importance of the splice variants remains to be determined.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel