Purpose: To characterize an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced dominant mouse mutant, M-1156, that exhibits progressive retinal degeneration and to investigate the pathogenesis of the retinal phenotype in the mutant.
Methods: A positional candidate gene approach was used to identify the causative gene in the M-1156 mutant. Funduscopic examination, light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and electroretinography were performed to analyze the M-1156 phenotype. Real-time quantitative PCR, immunohistochemistry, and western blotting were also performed.
Results: Linkage analysis enabled the mutant gene to be mapped to a region of chromosome 19 containing Rom1, which encodes rod outer segment membrane protein 1. Sequence analysis demonstrated that the mutation consisted of a single base T-->C substitution at position 1,195 in Rom1 (M96760, National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI]) and that the mutant allele was expressed. A putative missense mutation designated Rom1(Rgsc1156) that was identified in the M-1156 mutant mouse causes a Trp to Arg substitution at position 182 in the translated protein. Rom1(Rgsc1156) heterozygotes were found to have a mottled retina and narrowed arteries in the fundus oculi. Photomicrographs of the retina revealed significant differences among the genotypes in the thickness of the outer nuclear layer and in the length of the outer segments of the photoreceptors. The alterations were more marked in the homozygotes than in the heterozygotes. Electron micrographs showed that the diameters of the discs varied in the heterozygotes and that the discs were more compactly stacked than in the wild type. There were significant differences among the genotypes in the amplitude of the a-wave in single-flash electroretinograms, but there were no significant differences among the photopic electroretinograms. Real-time quantitative PCR showed that there were no significant differences among the genotypes in Rom1 or peripherin/rds (Prph2) mRNA levels relative to the rhodopsin (Rho) mRNA level. Rom1 and Prph2 immunoreactivity were decreased in the retinas of the Rom1(Rgsc1156) mutants. Semiquantitative western blot analysis of retinas from 3-week-old Rom1(Rgsc1156) mutants demonstrated significant decreases in Rom1, Prph2, and Rho protein levels in all of the genotypes.
Conclusions: The Trp182Arg substitution in Rom1(Rgsc1156) mutants causes retinal degeneration. The results suggested that Trp182Arg mutant Rom1 causes a decrease in the levels of wild-type Prph2 and Rom1, which in turn cause a reduction in the level of Prph2 containing tetramers in the disc rim region and ultimately result in unstable, disorganized outer segments and photoreceptor degeneration.