High-Throughput Sequencing to Identify Mutations Associated with Retinal Dystrophies

Genes (Basel). 2021 Aug 20;12(8):1269. doi: 10.3390/genes12081269.


Retinal dystrophies (RD) are clinically and genetically heterogenous disorders showing mutations in over 270 disease-associated genes. Several millions of people worldwide are affected with different types of RD. Studying the relevance of disease-associated sequence alterations will assist in understanding disorders and may lead to the development of therapeutic approaches. Here, we established a whole exome sequencing (WES) pipeline to rapidly identify disease-associated mutations in patients. Sanger sequencing was applied to identify deep-intronic variants and to verify the co-segregation of WES results within families. We analyzed 26 unrelated patients with different syndromic and non-syndromic clinical manifestations of RD. All patients underwent ophthalmic examinations. We identified nine novel disease-associated sequence variants among 37 variants identified in total. The sequence variants located to 17 different genes. Interestingly, two cases presenting with Stargardt disease carried deep-intronic variants in ABCA4. We have classified 21 variants as pathogenic variants, 4 as benign/likely benign variants, and 12 as variants of uncertain significance. This study highlights the importance of WES-based mutation analyses in RD patients supporting clinical decisions, broadly based genetic diagnosis and support genetic counselling. It is essential for any genetic therapy to expand the mutation spectrum, understand the genes' function, and correlate phenotypes with genotypes.

Keywords: Sanger sequencing; deep-intronic variants; mutations; novel variant; retinal dystrophy; whole exome sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • Exome / genetics
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Retinal Dystrophies / diagnosis
  • Retinal Dystrophies / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • ABCA4 protein, human
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters