Autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (ADRP) is caused by mutations in two known genes, rhodopsin and peripherin/Rds, and seven loci identified only by linkage analysis. Rhodopsin and peripherin/Rds have been estimated to account for 20-31% and less than 5% of ADRP, respectively. No estimate of frequency has previously been possible for the remaining loci, since these can only be implicated when families are large enough for linkage analysis. We have carried out such analyses on 20 unrelated pedigrees with 11 or more meioses. Frequency estimates based on such a small sample provide only broad approximations, while the above estimations are based on mutation detection in much larger clinic based patient series. However, when markers are informative, linkage analysis cannot fail to detect disease causation at a locus, whereas mutation detection techniques might miss some mutations. Also diagnosing dominant RP from a family history taken in a genetic clinic may not be reliable. It is therefore interesting that 10 (50%) of the families tested have rhodopsin-RP, suggesting that, in large clearly dominant RP pedigrees, rhodopsin may account for a higher proportion of disease than had previously been suspected. Four (20%) map to chromosome 19q, implying that this is the second most common ADRP locus. One maps to chromosome 7p, one to 17p, and one to 17q, while none maps to 1cen, peripherin/Rds, 8q, or 7q. Three give exclusion of all of these loci, showing that while the majority of dominant RP maps to the known loci, a small proportion derives from loci yet to be identified.
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