Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous group of diseases that cause blindness. Mutations within the rhodopsin gene account for approximately 25% of autosomal dominantly inherited RP cases. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms causing rhodopsin-mediated RP has a significant health impact. To date, results from multiple labs indicate that rhodopsin-mediated RP pathogenesis does not share a common mechanism of degeneration. There is strong evidence that multiple mechanisms are involved, including protein misfolding, mislocalization, release of toxic products, and aberrant signaling. Development of effective treatments requires investigation of the mechanism involved in the different rhodopsin mutations. This chapter focuses on the mechanisms by which rhodopsin mutations cause retinal degeneration, as well as potential therapeutic strategies to treat the disease.
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