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Irene Vázquez-Domínguez, Catherina H. Z. Li, Zeinab Fadaie, Lonneke Haer-Wigman, Frans P. M. Cremers, Alejandro Garanto, Carel B. Hoyng, Susanne Roosing; Identification of a Complex Allele in IMPG2 as a Cause of Adult-Onset Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(5):27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.5.27.
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Inherited retinal diseases are a group of clinically and genetically heterogeneous disorders with approximately 270 genes involved. IMPG2 is associated with adult-onset vitelliform macular dystrophy. Here, we investigated two unrelated patients with vitelliform macular dystrophy to identify the underlying genetic cause.
Whole-exome sequencing identified a putative causal complex allele consisting of c.3023-15T>A and c.3023G>A (p.(Gly1008Asp)) in IMPG2 in both individuals. To assess its effect, in vitro splice assays in HEK293T and further characterization in patient-derived photoreceptor precursor cells (PPCs) were conducted.
The results of the midigene splice assays in HEK293T showed that the complex allele causes a variety of splicing defects ranging from a small deletion to (multiple-)exon skipping. This finding was further validated using patient-derived PPCs that showed a significant increase of out-of-frame transcripts lacking one or multiple exons compared to control-derived PPCs. Overall, control PPCs consistently showed low levels of aberrantly spliced IMPG2 transcripts that were highly elevated in patient-derived PPCs. These differences were even more obvious upon inhibition of nonsense-mediated decay with cycloheximide.
We report a heterozygous complex allele in IMPG2 causative for adult-onset vitelliform macular dystrophy in two unrelated individuals with mild visual loss and bilateral vitelliform lesions. The predicted causal missense mutation c.3023G>A, located in the consensus splice acceptor site, enhances the splicing effect of the upstream variant c.3023-15T>A, leading to the generation of aberrant transcripts that decrease the full-length IMPG2 levels. These results suggest a haploinsufficiency mechanism of action and highlight the complementarity of using different models to functionally assesses splicing defects.
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