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Matteo Di Scipio, Erika Tavares, Shriya Deshmukh, Isabelle Audo, Kit Green-Sanderson, Yuliya Zubak, Fayçal Zine-Eddine, Alexander Pearson, Anjali Vig, Chen Yu Tang, Antonio Mollica, Jonathan Karas, Anupreet Tumber, Caberry W. Yu, Gail Billingsley, Michael D. Wilson, Christina Zeitz, Elise Héon, Ajoy Vincent; Phenotype Driven Analysis of Whole Genome Sequencing Identifies Deep Intronic Variants that Cause Retinal Dystrophies by Aberrant Exonization. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(10):36. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.10.36.
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To demonstrate the effectiveness of combining retinal phenotyping and focused variant filtering from genome sequencing (GS) in identifying deep intronic disease causing variants in inherited retinal dystrophies.
Affected members from three pedigrees with classical enhanced S-cone syndrome (ESCS; Pedigree 1), congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB; Pedigree 2), and achromatopsia (ACHM; Pedigree 3), respectively, underwent detailed ophthalmologic evaluation, optical coherence tomography, and electroretinography. The probands underwent panel-based genetic testing followed by GS analysis. Minigene constructs (NR2E3, GPR179 and CNGB3) and patient-derived cDNA experiments (NR2E3 and GPR179) were performed to assess the functional effect of the deep intronic variants.
The electrophysiological findings confirmed the clinical diagnosis of ESCS, CSNB, and ACHM in the respective pedigrees. Panel-based testing revealed heterozygous pathogenic variants in NR2E3 (NM_014249.3; c.119-2A>C; Pedigree 1) and CNGB3 (NM_019098.4; c.1148delC/p.Thr383Ilefs*13; Pedigree 3). The GS revealed heterozygous deep intronic variants in Pedigrees 1 (NR2E3; c.1100+1124G>A) and 3 (CNGB3; c.852+4751A>T), and a homozygous GPR179 variant in Pedigree 2 (NM_001004334.3; c.903+343G>A). The identified variants segregated with the phenotype in all pedigrees. All deep intronic variants were predicted to generate a splice acceptor gain causing aberrant exonization in NR2E3 [89 base pairs (bp)], GPR179 (197 bp), and CNGB3 (73 bp); splicing defects were validated through patient-derived cDNA experiments and/or minigene constructs and rescued by antisense oligonucleotide treatment.
Deep intronic mutations contribute to missing heritability in retinal dystrophies. Combining results from phenotype-directed gene panel testing, GS, and in silico splice prediction tools can help identify these difficult-to-detect pathogenic deep intronic variants.
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