Whole-exome sequencing revealed HKDC1 as a candidate gene associated with autosomal-recessive retinitis pigmentosa

Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Dec 1;27(23):4157-4168. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy281.


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inheritable retina degenerative disease leading to blindness. Despite the identification of 70 genes associated with RP, the genetic cause of ∼40% of RP patients remains to be elucidated. Whole-exome sequencing was applied on the probands of a RP cohort of 68 unsolved cases to identify candidate genetic mutations. A homozygous missense variant (c.173C > T, p.T58 M) was found in HKDC1 in two unrelated families presenting late-onset retinal degeneration. This variant affects highly conserved amino acid residue and is very rare in several databases and absent in 4000 ethnic-matched controls. Mutant HKDC1 protein partially lost hexokinase activity. Hkdc1 is expressed in the mouse retina and localized to photoreceptor inner segments. To elucidate the in vivo roles of Hkdc1 in the retina, we generated Hkdc1 knockout (KO) mouse models using CRISPR/Cas9 technique. Two independent alleles were identified and backcrossed to C57BL/6 J for 6 generations. Absence of HKDC1 expression in the Hkdc1 KO retina was confirmed by western blot and immunostaning using HKDC1 antibody. Hkdc1 KO mice exhibited reduced scotopic electroretinogram response and thinner outer nuclear layer, similar to some of the human patient phenotypes. Loss of Hkdc1 led to mislocalization of rhodopsin to the inner segments and cell bodies of rods in some regions in the retina. Taken together, our data demonstrated that HKDC1 is associated with autosomal recessively inherited RP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Exome / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Hexokinase / genetics*
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / genetics*
  • Retinal Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / genetics*
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / physiopathology
  • Whole Exome Sequencing


  • HKDC1 protein, human
  • Hexokinase
  • Hkdc1 protein, mouse

Supplementary concepts

  • Late-Onset Retinal Degeneration