Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited retinal degenerative disease with severe vision impairment leading to blindness. About 10-15% of RP cases are caused by mutations in the RPGR gene, with RPGR mutations accounting for 70% of X-linked RP cases. The mechanism by which RPGR mutations cause photoreceptor cell dysfunction is not well understood. In this study, we show that the two isoforms of RPGR (RPGR1-19 and RPGRORF15) interact with endogenous PDE6D, INPP5E, and RPGRIP1L. The RPGR1-19 isoform contains two PDE6D binding sites with the C-terminal prenylation site being the predominant PDE6D binding site. The C terminus of RPGR1-19 that contains the prenylation site regulates its interaction with PDE6D, INPP5E, and RPGRIP1L. Only the RPGR1-19 isoform localizes to cilia in cultured RPE1 cells. Missense variations found in RPGR patients disrupt the interaction between RPGR isoforms and their endogenous interactors INPP5E, PDE6D, and RPGRIP1L. We evaluated a RPGR missense variation (M58K) found in a family with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) and show that this missense variation disrupts the interaction of RPGR isoforms with their endogenous interactors. The M58K variation also disrupts the ciliary localization of the RPGR1-19 isoform. Using this assay, we also show that some of the RPGR missense variants reported in the literature might not actually be disease causing. Our data establishes an in vitro assay that can be used to validate the potential pathogenicity of RPGR missense variants.
Keywords: INPP5E; PDE6D; RPGR; cilia; retinal degeneration.