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David S. Williams, Tomas S. Aleman, Concepción Lillo, Vanda S. Lopes, Louise C. Hughes, Edwin M. Stone, Samuel G. Jacobson; Harmonin in the Murine Retina and the Retinal Phenotypes of Ush1c-Mutant Mice and Human USH1C. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(8):3881-3889. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-3358.
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purpose. To investigate the expression of harmonin in the mouse retina, test for ultrastructural and physiological mutant phenotypes in the retina of an Ush1c mutant mouse, and define in detail the retinal phenotype in human USH1C.
methods. Antibodies were generated against harmonin. Harmonin isoform distribution was examined by Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry. Retinas of deaf circler (dfcr) mice, which possess mutant Ush1c, were analyzed by microscopy and electroretinography (ERG). Two siblings with homozygous 238_239insC (R80fs) USH1C mutations were studied with ERG, perimetry, and optical coherence tomography (OCT).
results. Harmonin isoforms a and c, but not b are expressed in the retina. Harmonin is concentrated in the photoreceptor synapse where the majority is postsynaptic. Dfcr mice do not undergo retinal degeneration and have normal synaptic ultrastructure and ERGs. USH1C patients had abnormal rod and cone ERGs. Rod- and cone-mediated sensitivities and retinal laminar architecture were normal across 50°–60° of visual field. A transition zone to severely abnormal function and structure was present at greater eccentricities.
conclusions. The largest harmonin isoforms are not expressed in the retina. A major retinal concentration of harmonin is in the photoreceptor synapses, both pre- and post-synaptically. The dfcr mouse retina is unaffected by its mutant Ush1c. Patients with USH1C retained regions of normal central retina surrounded by degeneration. Perhaps the human disease is simply more aggressive than that in the mouse. Alternatively, the dfcr mouse may be a model for nonsyndromic deafness, due to the nonpathologic effect of its mutation on the retinal isoforms.
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