Ocular coloboma is a common eye malformation resulting from incomplete fusion of the optic fissure during development. Coloboma is often associated with microphthalmia and/or contralateral anophthalmia. Coloboma shows extensive locus heterogeneity associated with causative mutations identified in genes encoding developmental transcription factors or components of signaling pathways. We report an ultra-rare, heterozygous frameshift mutation in FZD5 (p.Ala219Glufs*49) that was identified independently in two branches of a large family with autosomal dominant non-syndromic coloboma. FZD5 has a single-coding exon and consequently a transcript with this frameshift variant is not a canonical substrate for nonsense-mediated decay. FZD5 encodes a transmembrane receptor with a conserved extracellular cysteine rich domain for ligand binding. The frameshift mutation results in the production of a truncated protein, which retains the Wingless-type MMTV integration site family member-ligand-binding domain, but lacks the transmembrane domain. The truncated protein was secreted from cells, and behaved as a dominant-negative FZD5 receptor, antagonizing both canonical and non-canonical WNT signaling. Expression of the resultant mutant protein caused coloboma and microphthalmia in zebrafish, and disruption of the apical junction of the retinal neural epithelium in mouse, mimicking the phenotype of Fz5/Fz8 compound conditional knockout mutants. Our studies have revealed a conserved role of Wnt-Frizzled (FZD) signaling in ocular development and directly implicate WNT-FZD signaling both in normal closure of the human optic fissure and pathogenesis of coloboma.
Published by Oxford University Press 2016. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.