Purpose of review: Anterior segment dysgenesis (ASD) disorders encompass a spectrum of developmental conditions affecting the cornea, iris, and lens and are generally associated with an approximate 50% risk for glaucoma. These conditions are characterized by both autosomal dominant and recessive patterns of inheritance often with incomplete penetrance/variable expressivity. This article summarizes what is known about the genetics of ASD disorders and reviews recent developments.
Recent findings: Mutations in Collagen type IV alpha-1 (COL4A1) and Beta-1,3-galactosyltransferase-like (B3GALTL) have been reported in ASD patients. Novel findings in other well known ocular genes are also presented, among which regulatory region deletions in PAX6 and PITX2 are most notable.
Summary: Although a number of genetic causes have been identified, many ASD conditions are still awaiting genetic elucidation. The majority of characterized ASD genes encode transcription factors; several other genes represent extracellular matrix-related proteins. All of the involved genes play active roles in ocular development and demonstrate conserved functions across species. The use of novel technologies, such as whole genome sequencing/comparative genomic hybridization, is likely to broaden the mutation spectrums in known genes and assist in the identification of novel causative genes as well as modifiers explaining the phenotypic variability of ASD conditions.