Purpose: To determine the underlying molecular genetic basis of a retinal dystrophy identified in a 5-generation family, and to examine the phenotype and degree of intrafamilial variability.
Design: Family genetic study.
Participants: Nine affected individuals from a nonconsanguineous British family.
Methods: Ophthalmologic examination, color vision testing, fundus photography, autofluorescence imaging, and electrophysiological assessment were performed. The clinical notes of 2 additional deceased affected family members were also reviewed. Blood samples were taken for DNA extraction, with linkage analysis being performed, and subsequent mutation screening of the peripherin/RDS gene.
Results: Linkage analysis established a disease interval on chromosome 6p, which harbored the retinal candidate gene, peripherin/RDS. The 3 coding exons of the peripherin/RDS gene were subsequently screened for mutations in affected and unaffected family members. A nonconservative missense substitution, Arg172Trp (R172W), segregated uniquely in all affected subjects. The majority of subjects carrying the R172W peripherin/RDS mutation complained of reduced central vision starting in the second or third decade, with subsequent gradual deterioration of visual acuity and color vision. Three affected individuals complained of nyctalopia. A range of macular appearances were seen, varying from a typical granular appearance to extensive macular atrophy. Autofluorescence imaging in the majority of individuals identified a highly characteristic speckled macular appearance. All affected subjects had abnormal pattern electroretinograms (ERGs) consistent with macular dysfunction and 4 subjects showed additional full-field ERG abnormalities, providing evidence of generalized retinal dysfunction. There was marked variation in the clinical phenotype in those individuals who carried the R172W peripherin/RDS mutation, ranging from severe cone-rod dystrophy to asymptomatic individuals with normal retinal function.
Conclusions: The Arg172Trp (R172W) peripherin/RDS mutation has been previously reported to cause a fully penetrant progressive macular dystrophy with high intrafamilial and interfamilial consistency of phenotype. This is the first report describing marked intrafamilial variation associated with this mutation, including nonpenetrance. These findings are clinically important in relation to advice on prognosis and accurate genetic counseling.