DNA Variant in the RPGRIP1L Gene Influences Alternative Splicing

Mol Neuropsychiatry. 2020 Apr;5(Suppl 1):97-106. doi: 10.1159/000502199. Epub 2019 Sep 25.


The retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator interacting protein 1-like (RPGRIP1L) gene encodes a ciliary protein that is critical for processes related to brain development, including development of left-right asymmetry, sonic hedgehog signaling, and neural tube formation. RPGRIP1L is a risk factor for retinal degeneration, and rare, deleterious variants in the RPGRIP1L gene cause Joubert syndrome and Meckel syndrome, both autosomal recessive disorders. These syndromes are characterized by dysfunctional primary cilia that result in abnormal development - and even lethality in the case of Meckel syndrome. Genetic studies have also implicated RPGRIP1L in psychiatric disorders by suggestive findings from genome-wide association studies and findings from rare-variant exome analyses for bipolar disorder and de novo mutations in autism. In this study we identify a common variant in RPGRIP1L, rs7203525, that influences alternative splicing, increasing the inclusion of exon 20 of RPGRIP1L. We detected this alternative splicing association in human postmortem brain tissue samples and, using a minigene assay combined with in vitro mutagenesis, confirmed that the alternative splicing is attributable to the alleles of this variant. The predominate RPGRIP1L isoform expressed in adult brains does not contain exon 20; thus, a shift to include this exon may impact brain function.

Keywords: Autism; Bipolar disorder; Gene expression; Gene regulation; Genetics; Genome-wide association study; Joubert syndrome; Meckel syndrome; RPGRIP1L; Schizophrenia; Splicing; Transcription.