Inherited Retinal Diseases Due to RPE65 Variants: From Genetic Diagnostic Management to Therapy

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 5;22(13):7207. doi: 10.3390/ijms22137207.


Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are a heterogeneous group of conditions that include retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and early-onset severe retinal dystrophy (EO[S]RD), which differ in severity and age of onset. IRDs are caused by mutations in >250 genes. Variants in the RPE65 gene account for 0.6-6% of RP and 3-16% of LCA/EORD cases. Voretigene neparvovec is a gene therapy approved for the treatment of patients with an autosomal recessive retinal dystrophy due to confirmed biallelic RPE65 variants (RPE65-IRDs). Therefore, the accurate molecular diagnosis of RPE65-IRDs is crucial to identify 'actionable' genotypes-i.e., genotypes that may benefit from the treatment-and is an integral part of patient management. To date, hundreds of RPE65 variants have been identified, some of which are classified as pathogenic or likely pathogenic, while the significance of others is yet to be established. In this review, we provide an overview of the genetic diagnostic workup needed to select patients that could be eligible for voretigene neparvovec treatment. Careful clinical characterization of patients by multidisciplinary teams of experts, combined with the availability of next-generation sequencing approaches, can accelerate patients' access to available therapeutic options.

Keywords: RPE65; genetic counseling; genetic testing; inherited retinal diseases; next-generation sequencing; variants of uncertain significance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye Diseases, Hereditary / diagnosis
  • Eye Diseases, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Eye Diseases, Hereditary / therapy
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Retinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Diseases / genetics*
  • Retinal Diseases / therapy
  • cis-trans-Isomerases / genetics*


  • retinoid isomerohydrolase
  • cis-trans-Isomerases