Achromatopsia (ACHM) is an autosomal-recessive retinal dystrophy characterized by color blindness, photophobia, nystagmus, and severely reduced visual acuity. Its prevalence has been estimated to about 1 in 30,000 individuals. Four genes, GNAT2, PDE6C, CNGA3, and CNGB3, have been implicated in ACHM, and all encode functional components of the phototransduction cascade in cone photoreceptors. Applying a functional-candidate-gene approach that focused on screening additional genes involved in this process in a cohort of 611 index cases with ACHM or other cone photoreceptor disorders, we detected a homozygous single base change (c.35C>G) resulting in a nonsense mutation (p.Ser12(∗)) in PDE6H, encoding the inhibitory γ subunit of the cone photoreceptor cyclic guanosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase. The c.35C>G mutation was present in three individuals from two independent families with a clinical diagnosis of incomplete ACHM and preserved short-wavelength-sensitive cone function. Moreover, we show through immunohistochemical colocalization studies in mouse retina that Pde6h is evenly present in all retinal cone photoreceptors, a fact that had been under debate in the past. These findings add PDE6H to the set of genes involved in autosomal-recessive cone disorders and demonstrate the importance of the inhibitory γ subunit in cone phototransduction.
Copyright © 2012 The American Society of Human Genetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.