Semaphorins are a large family of transmembrane proteins. The gene for SEMA4A encodes a transmembrane protein comprising 760 amino acids. To investigate its association with human retinal degeneration, mutation screening of the SEMA4A gene was carried out on 190 unrelated patients suffering from a variety of eye diseases. We report the first observation of the involvement of SEMA4A gene mutations causing retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and cone rod dystrophy (CRD). We screened the DNA of 135 patients with RP, 25 patients with CRD, and 30 with LCA using SSCP and direct DNA sequencing for mutations in the SEMA4A gene. Two mutations, p.D345H and p.F350C, were observed only in affected patients; they were not observed in any of the normal members or the 100 control subjects. Both mutations identified occur in the conserved semaphorin domain. Multiple sequence alignments using Clustal analysis showed that R713Q is a conserved substitution and D345H is a semi-conserved substitution. We conclude that these mutations are a cause of various retinal degenerations.
- CRD, cone rod dystrophy
- LCA, Leber congenital amaurosis
- RPE, retinal pigment epithelial
- RP, retinitis pigmentosa
- SSCP, single stranded conformational polymorphism
- retinal degeneration
- retinitis pigmentosa
- cone rod dystrophy
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Published Online First 30 September 2005
Competing interests: there are no competing interests.