Purpose: Heterozygous mutations in the gene PRPF31, encoding a pre-mRNA splicing factor, cause autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) with reduced penetrance. At the molecular level, pathogenicity results from haploinsufficiency, as the largest majority of such mutations trigger nonsense-mediated mRNA decay or involve large deletions of coding exons. We investigated genetically two families with a history of adRP, one of whom showed incomplete penetrance.
Methods: All patients underwent thorough ophthalmological examination, including electroretinography (ERG) and Goldmann perimetry. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) were used to map heterozygous deletions, while real-time PCR on genomic DNA and long-range PCR allowed resolving the mutations at the base-pair level. PRPF31 transcripts were quantified with real-time PCR on patient-derived lymphoblastoid cell lines.
Results: We identified two independent deletions affecting the promoter and the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of PRPF31 but leaving its coding sequence completely unaltered. Analysis of PRPF31 mRNA from lymphoblastoid cell lines from one of these families showed reduced levels of expression in patients versus controls, probably due to the heterozygous ablation of its promoter sequences.
Conclusions: In addition to reporting the identification of two novel noncoding deletions in PRPF31, this study provides strong additional evidence that mRNA-mediated haploinsufficiency is the primary cause of pathogenesis for PRPF31-linked adRP.
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