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Yi Jiang, Shiqiang Li, Xueshan Xiao, Wenmin Sun, Qingjiong Zhang; Genotype-Phenotype of Isolated Foveal Hypoplasia in a Large Cohort: Minor Iris Changes as an Indicator of PAX6 Involvement. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2021;62(10):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.62.10.23.
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Foveal hypoplasia (FVH) is defined as the lack of fovea with a relatively preserved neuroretina, occurring either as an isolated FVH (IFVH) condition or associated with other diseases. This study aimed to systemically molecularly characterize IFVH.
Genetic defects in 33 families with IFVH were analyzed by exome sequencing. Variants in three genes (PAX6, SLC38A8, and AHR) were selected and evaluated with multistep bioinformatic tools.
Mutations in the three genes were identified in 69.7% (23/33) of families with IFVH and infantile nystagmus, including 18 families with PAX6 mutations, 5 with SLC38A8 mutations, but none with AHR mutations. Clinical data from 32 patients in the 23 families showed FVH, infantile nystagmus, and full iris. Careful follow-up visits revealed subtle changes in iris in 9 of 14 patients with PAX6 variants. The PAX6 variants of the 18 families (15 missense and one stop-loss) were mostly located in the C-terminal region of the paired box domain. Variants in AHR, SLC38A8, and PAX6 contributed to IFVH in one (2%), 25 (45%), and 30 (53%) families with identified genetic defects (23 families in this study and 33 reported previously), respectively.
PAX6 and SLC38A8 mutations are the main cause of IFVH based on our data and a systematic review. IFVH-associated PAX6 variants are mostly missense with a specific location, indicating a specific correlation of these variants with IFVH but not with typical aniridia. Full iris with subtle structural abnormalities is more common in patients with PAX6-associated IFVH, suggesting a potential diagnostic indicator.
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