Browsing by Author "Jalkanen, Reetta"

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  • Jalkanen, Reetta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Inherited retinal diseases are the most common cause of vision loss among the working population in Western countries. It is estimated that ~1 of the people worldwide suffer from vision loss due to inherited retinal diseases. The severity of these diseases varies from partial vision loss to total blindness, and at the moment no effective cure exists. To date, nearly 200 mapped loci, including 140 cloned genes for inherited retinal diseases have been identified. By a rough estimation 50% of the retinal dystrophy genes still await discovery. In this thesis we aimed to study the genetic background of two inherited retinal diseases, X-linked cone-rod dystrophy and Åland Island eye disease. X-linked cone-rod dystrophy (CORDX) is characterized by progressive loss of visual function in school age or early adulthood. Affected males show reduced visual acuity, photophobia, myopia, color vision defects, central scotomas, and variable changes in fundus. The disease is genetically heterogeneous and two disease loci, CORDX1 and CORDX2, were known prior to the present thesis work. CORDX1, located on Xp21.1-11.4, is caused by mutations in the RPGR gene. CORDX2 is located on Xq27-28 but the causative gene is still unknown. Åland Island eye disease (AIED), originally described in a family living in Åland Islands, is a congenital retinal disease characterized by decreased visual acuity, fundus hypopigmentation, nystagmus, astigmatism, red color vision defect, myopia, and defective night vision. AIED shares similarities with another retinal disease, congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB2). Mutations in the L-type calcium channel α1F-subunit gene, CACNA1F, are known to cause CSNB2, as well as AIED-like disease. The disease locus of the original AIED family maps to the same genetic interval as the CACNA1F gene, but efforts to reveal CACNA1F mutations in patients of the original AIED family have been unsuccessful. The specific aims of this study were to map the disease gene in a large Finnish family with X-linked cone-rod dystrophy and to identify the disease-causing genes in the patients of the Finnish cone-rod dystrophy family and the original AIED family. With the help of linkage and haplotype analyses, we could localize the disease gene of the Finnish cone-rod dystrophy family to the Xp11.4-Xq13.1 region, and thus establish a new genetic X-linked cone-rod dystrophy locus, CORDX3. Mutation analyses of candidate genes revealed three novel CACNA1F gene mutations: IVS28-1 GCGTC>TGG in CORDX3 patients, a 425 bp deletion, comprising exon 30 and flanking intronic regions in AIED patients, and IVS16+2T>C in an additional Finnish patient with a CSNB2-like phenotype. All three novel mutations altered splice sites of the CACNA1F gene, and resulted in defective pre-mRNA splicing suggesting altered or absent channel function as a disease mechanism. The analyses of CACNA1F mRNA also revealed novel alternative wt splice variants, which may enhance channel diversity or regulate the overall expression level of the channel. The results of our studies may be utilized in genetic counseling of the families, and they provide a basis for studies on the pathogenesis of these diseases. In the future, the knowledge of the genetic defects may be used in the identification of specific therapies for the patients.