Nonhuman Primate Model of Oculocutaneous Albinism with TYR and OCA2 Mutations

Research (Wash D C). 2020 Mar 11:2020:1658678. doi: 10.34133/2020/1658678. eCollection 2020.


Human visual acuity is anatomically determined by the retinal fovea. The ontogenetic development of the fovea can be seriously hindered by oculocutaneous albinism (OCA), which is characterized by a disorder of melanin synthesis. Although people of all ethnic backgrounds can be affected, no efficient treatments for OCA have been developed thus far, due partly to the lack of effective animal models. Rhesus macaques are genetically homologous to humans and, most importantly, exhibit structures of the macula and fovea that are similar to those of humans; thus, rhesus macaques present special advantages in the modeling and study of human macular and foveal diseases. In this study, we identified rhesus macaque models with clinical characteristics consistent with those of OCA patients according to observations of ocular behavior, fundus examination, and optical coherence tomography. Genomic sequencing revealed a biallelic p.L312I mutation in TYR and a homozygous p.S788L mutation in OCA2, both of which were further confirmed to affect melanin biosynthesis via in vitro assays. These rhesus macaque models of OCA will be useful animal resources for studying foveal development and for preclinical trials of new therapies for OCA.