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Martin-Paul Agbaga, Beatrice M. Tam, Jenny S. Wong, Lee Ling Yang, Robert E. Anderson, Orson L. Moritz; Mutant ELOVL4 That Causes Autosomal Dominant Stargardt-3 Macular Dystrophy Is Misrouted to Rod Outer Segment Disks. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(6):3669-3680. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.13-13099.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Autosomal dominant Stargardt macular dystrophy caused by mutations in the Elongation of Very Long Chain fatty acids (ELOVL4) gene results in macular degeneration, leading to early childhood blindness. Transgenic mice and pigs expressing mutant ELOVL4 develop progressive photoreceptor degeneration. The mechanism by which these mutations cause macular degeneration remains unclear, but have been hypothesized to involve the loss of an ER-retention dilysine motif located in the extreme C-terminus. Dominant negative mechanisms and reduction in retinal polyunsaturated fatty acids also have been suggested. To understand the molecular mechanisms involved in disease progression in vivo, we addressed the hypothesis that the disease-linked C-terminal truncation mutant of ELOVL4 exerts a dominant negative effect on wild-type (WT) ELOVL4, altering its subcellular localization and function, which subsequently induces retinal degeneration and loss of vision.
We generated transgenic Xenopus laevis that overexpress HA-tagged murine ELOVL4 variants in rod photoreceptors.
Tagged or untagged WT ELOVL4 localized primarily to inner segments. However, the mutant protein lacking the dilysine motif was mislocalized to post-Golgi compartments and outer segment disks. Coexpression of mutant and WT ELOVL4 in rods did not result in mislocalization of the WT protein to outer segments or in the formation of aggregates. Full-length HA-tagged ELOVL4 lacking the dilysine motif (K308R/K310R) necessary for targeting the WT ELOVL4 protein to the endoplasmic reticulum was similarly mislocalized to outer segments.
We propose that expression and outer segment mislocalization of the disease-linked 5–base-pair deletion mutant ELOVL4 protein alters photoreceptor structure and function, which subsequently results in retinal degeneration, and suggest three possible mechanisms by which mutant ELOVL4 may induce retinal degeneration in STGD3.
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