Background Usher syndrome type II (USH2) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterised by retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. Mutations in the USH2A gene are the most common cause of USH2 and are also a cause of some forms of RP without hearing loss (ie, non-syndromic RP). The USH2A gene was initially identified as a transcript comprised of 21 exons but subsequently a longer isoform containing 72 exons was identified.
Methods The 51 exons unique to the long isoform of USH2A were screened for mutations among a core set of 108 patients diagnosed with USH2 and 80 patients with non-syndromic RP who were all included in a previously reported screen of the short isoform of USH2A. For several exons, additional patients were screened.
Results In total, 35 deleterious mutations were identified including 17 nonsense mutations, 9 frameshift mutations, 5 splice-site mutations, and 4 small in-frame deletions or insertions. Twenty-seven mutations were novel. In addition, 65 rare missense changes were identified. A method of classifying the deleterious effect of the missense changes was developed using the summed results of four different mutation assessment algorithms, SIFT, pMUT, PolyPhen, and AGVGD. This system classified 8 of the 65 changes as ‘likely deleterious’ and 9 as ‘possibly deleterious’.
Conclusion At least one mutation was identified in 57–63% of USH2 cases and 19–23% of cases of non-syndromic recessive RP (calculated without and including probable/possible deleterious changes) thus supporting that USH2A is the most common known cause of RP in the USA.
- Usher syndrome
- retinitis pigmentosa
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Funding This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health grants NIH-EY00169, NIH-EY08683, and P30-EY014104, and The Foundation Fighting Blindness, Owings Mills, MD.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the IRBs of both Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.