Purpose: Nanophthalmos is a rare genetic ocular disorder in which the eyes of affected individuals are abnormally small. Patients suffer from severe hyperopia as a result of their markedly reduced axial lengths, but otherwise are capable of seeing well unlike other more general forms of microphthalmia. To date one gene for nanophthalmos has been identified, encoding the membrane-type frizzled related protein MFRP. Identification of additional genes for nanophthalmos will improve our understanding of normal developmental regulation of eye growth.
Methods: We ascertained a cohort of families from eastern Canada and Mexico with familial nanophthalmos. We performed high density microsatellite and high density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping to identify potential chromosomal regions of linkage. We sequenced coding regions of genes in the linked interval by traditional PCR-based Sanger capillary electrophoresis methods. We cloned and sequenced a novel cDNA from a putative causal gene to verify gene structure.
Results: We identified a linked locus on chromosome 2q37 with a peak logarithm (base 10) of odds (LOD) score of 4.7. Sequencing of coding exons of all genes in the region identified multiple segregating variants in one gene, recently annotated as serine protease gene (PRSS56), coding for a predicted trypsin serine protease-like protein. One of our families was homozygous for a predicted pathogenic missense mutation, one family was compound heterozygous for two predicted pathogenic missense mutations, and one family was compound heterozygous for a predicted pathogenic missense mutation plus a frameshift leading to obligatory truncation of the predicted protein. The PRSS56 gene structure in public databases is based on a virtual transcript assembled from overlapping incomplete cDNA clones; we have now validated the structure of a full-length transcript from embryonic mouse brain RNA.
Conclusions: PRSS56 is a good candidate for the causal gene for nanophthalmos in our families.