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P J Rosenfeld, L B Hahn, M A Sandberg, T P Dryja, E L Berson; Low incidence of retinitis pigmentosa among heterozygous carriers of a specific rhodopsin splice site mutation.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1995;36(11):2186-2192.
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PURPOSE: To determine whether a rhodopsin splice donor site mutation at the 5' end of intron 4 is a cause of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. METHODS: Heterozygous carriers of the same rhodopsin splice site mutation in two pedigrees were identified using single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis. Twelve heterozygous carriers were evaluated by ophthalmoscopy. Goldmann kinetic visual fields, dark adaptation thresholds, and full-field electroretinograms including rod intensity-response functions. Clinical findings from the heterozygous carriers of the splice site mutation were compared with those from heterozygous carriers from a separate family with a known recessive rhodopsin null mutation, Glu249X. RESULTS: Analysis of DNA from 48 members of two pedigrees revealed 25 heterozygous carriers of the splice site mutation, ranging in age from 14 to 82 years. There were no homozygotes with the rhodopsin splice site mutation. Of the 25 heterozygous carriers, 24 were asymptomatic. Eleven asymptomatic heterozygotes were examined, including four older than 65 years of age. They were found to have normal fundi, full visual fields, and slightly elevated final rod dark adaptation thresholds. Their rod electroretinographic b-wave amplitudes were slightly diminished over the full range of blue light intensities. Rod a-wave implicit times were slightly but significantly prolonged in response to the brightest blue flash of light. These subtle abnormalities in rod function were similar to those found in asymptomatic heterozygous carriers of the recessive Glu249X mutation. Only one of the 25 heterozygous carriers of the splice site mutation had symptoms and signs of retinitis pigmentosa. CONCLUSIONS: Because 96% of these heterozygous carriers do not have retinitis pigmentosa, it is unlikely that this mutation in intron 4 is a dominant allele. The subtle abnormalities of rod function found in asymptomatic carriers are similar to those found in heterozygous carriers of a recessive rhodopsin allele. The one heterozygous carrier with retinitis pigmentosa probably has a second mutation in the rhodopsin gene or has a defect or defects in another gene that causes his disease.
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