Mutations in each of three genes, myocilin (MYOC), optineurin (OPTN), and TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1), may cause primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) that is inherited as a Mendelian trait. MYOC mutations cause 3-4% of POAG cases with IOP >21 mmHg, while mutations in OPTN, TBK1, and MYOC each cause ∼1% of POAG with IOP ≤21 mmHg, i.e. normal tension glaucoma. Identification of these disease-causing genes has provided insights into glaucoma pathogenesis. Mutations in MYOC cause a cascade of abnormalities in the trabecular meshwork including intracellular retention of MYOC protein, decreased aqueous outflow, higher intraocular pressure, and glaucoma. Investigation of MYOC mutations demonstrated that abnormal retention of intracellular MYOC and stimulation of endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress may be important steps in the development of MYOC-associated glaucoma. Mutations in OPTN and TBK1 cause a dysregulation of autophagy which may directly cause retinal ganglion cell damage and normal tension glaucoma. Discovery of these Mendelian causes of glaucoma has also provided a new set of potential therapeutic targets that may ultimately lead to novel, gene-directed glaucoma treatments.
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