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PublicationIdentification of Genetic Variation and Haplotype Structure of the Canine ABCA4 Gene for Retinal Disease Association Studies(2010-10-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Lindauer, Sarah J; Acland, Gregory MOver 200 mutations in the retina specific member of the ATP-binding cassette transporter superfamily (ABCA4) have been associated with a diverse group of human retinal diseases. The disease mechanisms, and genotype–phenotype associations, nonetheless, remain elusive in many cases. As orthologous genes are commonly mutated in canine models of human blinding disorders, canine ABCA4 appears to be an ideal candidate gene to identify and study sequence changes in dogs affected by various forms of inherited retinal degeneration. However, the size of the gene and lack of haplotype assignment significantly limit targeted association and/or linkage approaches. This study assessed the naturally observed sequence diversity of ABCA4 in the dog, identifying 80% of novel variations. While none of the observed polymorphisms have been associated with blinding disorders to date, breed and potentially disease specific haplotypes have been identified. Moreover, a tag SNP map of 17 (15) markers has been established that accurately predicts common ABCA4 haplotypes (frequency > 5%) explaining >85% (>80%) of the observed genetic diversity and will considerably advance future studies. Our sequence analysis of the complete canine ABCA4 coding region will clearly provide a baseline and tools for future association studies and comparative genomics to further delineate the role of ABCA4 in canine blinding disorders. PublicationBestrophin Gene Mutations Cause Canine Multifocal Retinopathy: A Novel Animal Model for Best Disease(2007-05-01) Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Lindauer, Sarah J; Mullins, Robert F; Sandmeyer, Lynne S; Grahn, Bruce H; Stone, Edwin M; Acland, Gregory MPURPOSE. Canine multifocal retinopathy (cmr) is an autosomal recessive disorder of multiple dog breeds. The disease shares a number of clinical and pathologic similarities with Best macular dystrophy (BMD), and cmr is proposed as a new large animal model for Best disease. METHODS. cmr was characterized by ophthalmoscopy and histopathology and compared with BMD-affected patients. BEST1 (alias VMD2), the bestrophin gene causally associated with BMD, was evaluated in the dog. Canine ortholog cDNA sequence was cloned and verified using RPE/choroid 5′- and 3′-RACE. Expression of the canine gene transcripts and protein was analyzed by Northern and Western blotting and immunocytochemistry. All exons and the flanking splice junctions were screened by direct sequencing. RESULTS. The clinical phenotype and pathology of cmr closely resemble lesions of BMD. Canine VMD2 spans 13.7 kb of genomic DNA on CFA18 and shows a high level of conservation among eukaryotes. The transcript is predominantly expressed in RPE/choroid and encodes bestrophin, a 580-amino acid protein of 66 kDa. Immunocytochemistry of normal canine retina demonstrated specific localization of protein to the RPE basolateral plasma membranes. Two disease-specific sequence alterations were identified in the canine VMD2 gene: a C73T stop mutation in cmr1 and a G482A missense mutation in cmr2. CONCLUSIONS. The authors propose these two spontaneous mutations in the canine VMD2 gene, which cause cmr, as the first naturally occurring animal model of BMD. Further development of the cmr models will permit elucidation of the complex molecular mechanism of these retinopathies and the development of potential therapies. PublicationAssessment of Canine BEST1 Variations Identifies New Mutations and Establishes an Independent Bestrophinopathy Model (cmr3)(2010-12-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Wickström, Kaisa; Slavik, Julianna; Lindauer, Sarah J; Ahonen, Saija; Schelling, Claude; Lohi, Hannes; Guziewicz, Karina EPurpose: Mutations in bestrophin 1 (BEST1) are associated with a group of retinal disorders known as bestrophinopathies in man and canine multifocal retinopathies (cmr) in the dog. To date, the dog is the only large animal model suitable for the complex characterization and in-depth studies of Best-related disorders. In the first report of cmr, the disease was described in a group of mastiff-related breeds (cmr1) and the Coton de Tulear (cmr2). Additional breeds, e.g., the Lapponian herder (LH) and others, subsequently were recognized with similar phenotypes, but linked loci are unknown. Analysis of the BEST1 gene aimed to identify mutations in these additional populations and extend our understanding of genotype–phenotype associations. Methods: Animals were subjected to routine eye exams, phenotypically characterized, and samples were collected for molecular studies. Known BEST1 mutations were assessed, and the canine BEST1 coding exons were amplified and sequenced in selected individuals that exhibited a cmr compatible phenotype but that did not carry known mutations. Resulting sequence changes were genotyped in several different breeds and evaluated in the context of the phenotype. Results: Seven novel coding variants were identified in exon 10 of cBEST1. Two linked mutations were associated with cmr exclusive to the LH breed (cmr3). Two individuals of Jämthund and Norfolk terrier breeds were heterozygous for two conservative changes, but these were unlikely to have disease-causing potential. Another three substitutions were found in the Bernese mountain dog that were predicted to have a deleterious effect on protein function. Previously reported mutations were excluded from segregation in these populations, but cmr1 was confirmed in another mastiff-related breed, the Italian cane corso. Conclusions: A third independent canine model for human bestrophinopathies has been established in the LH breed. While exhibiting a phenotype comparable to cmr1 and cmr2, the novel cmr3 mutation is predicted to be based on a distinctly different molecular mechanism. So far cmr2 and cmr3 are exclusive to a single dog breed each. In contrast, cmr1 is found in multiple related breeds. Additional sequence alterations identified in exon 10 of cBEST1 in other breeds exhibit potential disease-causing features. The inherent genetic and phenotypic variation observed with retinal disorders in canines is complicated further by cmr3 being one of four distinct genetic retinal traits found to segregate in LH. Thus, a combination of phenotypic, molecular, and population analysis is required to establish a strong phenotype–genotype association. These results indicate that cmr has a larger impact on the general dog population than was initially suspected. The complexity of these models further confirms the similarity to human bestrophinopathies. Moreover, analyses of multiple canine models will provide additional insight into the molecular basis underlying diseases caused by mutations in BEST1. PublicationLinkage Disequilibrium Mapping in Domestic Dog Breeds Narrows the Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration Interval and Identifies Ancestral Disease-Transmitting Chromosome(2006-11-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Goldstein, Orly; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Pearce-Kelling, Sue; Sidjanin, Duska J; Kijas, James W; Felix, Jeanette; Acland, Gregory MCanine progressive rod–cone degeneration (prcd) is a retinal disease previously mapped to a broad, gene-rich centromeric region of canine chromosome 9. As allelic disorders are present in multiple breeds, we used linkage disequilibrium (LD) to narrow the ∼6.4-Mb interval candidate region. Multiple dog breeds, each representing genetically isolated populations, were typed for SNPs and other polymorphisms identified from BACs. The candidate region was initially localized to a 1.5-Mb zero recombination interval between growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (GRB2) and SEC14-like 1 (SEC14L). A fine-scale haplotype of the region was developed, which reduced the LD interval to 106 kb and identified a conserved haplotype of 98 polymorphisms present in all prcd-affected chromosomes from 14 different dog breeds. The findings strongly suggest that a common ancestor transmitted the prcd disease allele to many of the modern dog breeds and demonstrate the power of the LD approach in the canine model. PublicationIdentical Mutation in a Novel Retinal Gene Causes Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration in Dogs and Retinitis Pigmentosa in Humans(2006-11-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Goldstein, Orly; Philip, Alisdair R; Lindauer, Sarah J. P; Pearce-Kelling, Susan E; Mullins, Roberts F; Graphodatsky, Alexander S; Ripoll, Daniel; Felix, Jeanette S; Stone, Edwin M; Acland, Gregory MProgressive rod–cone degeneration (prcd) is a late-onset, autosomal recessive photoreceptor degeneration of dogs and a homolog for some forms of human retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Previously, the disease-relevant interval was reduced to a 106-kb region on CFA9, and a common phenotype-specific haplotype was identified in all affected dogs from several different breeds and breed varieties. Screening of a canine retinal EST library identified partial cDNAs for novel candidate genes in the disease-relevant interval. The complete cDNA of one of these, PRCD, was cloned in dog, human, and mouse. The gene codes for a 54-amino-acid (aa) protein in dog and human and a 53-aa protein in the mouse; the first 24 aa, coded for by exon 1, are highly conserved in 14 vertebrate species. A homozygous mutation (TGC → TAC) in the second codon shows complete concordance with the disorder in 18 different dog breeds/breed varieties tested. The same homozygous mutation was identified in a human patient from Bangladesh with autosomal recessive RP. Expression studies support the predominant expression of this gene in the retina, with equal expression in the retinal pigment epithelium, photoreceptor, and ganglion cell layers. This study provides strong evidence that a mutation in the novel gene PRCD is the cause of autosomal recessive retinal degeneration in both dogs and humans. PublicationCanine Multifocal Retinopathy in the Australian Shepherd: A Case Report(2012-09-01) Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Guziewicz, Karina E; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Zangerl, Barbara; Mardin, Christian YA 1-year-old Australian Shepherd (AS) was presented for a routine hereditary eye examination. During the examination multiple raised, brown to orange lesions were noted in the fundus, which could not be attributed to a known retinal disease in this breed. As they clinically most closely resembled canine multifocal retinopathy (cmr) and no indication of an acquired condition was found, genetic tests for BEST1 gene mutations were performed. These showed the dog to be homozygous for the cmr1 (C73T/R25X) gene defect. Furthermore, ultrasound (US), electroretinography (ERG), and optical coherence tomography were performed, confirming changes typical for cmr. Subsequently, the AS pedigree members were genetically and clinically tested, demonstrating autosomal recessive inheritance with no clinical symptoms in carrier animals, as was previously described for cmr. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of canine multifocal retinopathy in the AS breed. Further investigations are under way. PublicationRPGRIP1 and Cone-Rod Dystrophy in Dogs(2012-01-01) Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Kuznetsova, Tatyana N; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo DCone–rod dystrophies (crd) represent a group of progressive inherited blinding diseases characterized by primary dysfunction and loss of cone photoreceptors accompanying or preceding rod death. Recessive crd type 1 was described in dogs associated with an RPGRIP1 exon 2 mutation, but with lack of complete concordance between genotype and phenotype. This review highlights role of the RPGRIP1, a component of complex protein networks, and its function in the primary cilium, and discusses the potential mechanisms of genotype–phenotype discordance observed in dogs with the RPGRIP1 mutation. PublicationModeling the Structural Consequences of BEST1 Missense Mutations(2012-01-01) Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Guziewicz, Karina E; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Zangerl, BarbaraMutations in the bestrophin-1 gene (BEST1) are an important cause of inherited retinal disorders. Hitherto, over 100 unique allelic variants have been linked to the human BEST1 (hBEST1), and associated with disease phenotypes, broadly termed as bestrophinopathies. A spontaneous animal model recapitulating BEST1-related phenotypes, canine multifocal retinopathy (cmr), is caused by mutations in the canine gene ortholog (cBEST1). We have recently characterized molecular consequences of cmr, demonstrating defective protein trafficking as a result of G161D (cmr2) mutation. To further investigate the pathological effects of BEST1 missense mutations, canine and human peptide fragments derived from the protein sequence have been studied in silico as models for early events in the protein folding. The results showed that G161D as well as I201T substitutions cause severe conformational changes in the structure of bestrophin-1, suggesting protein misfolding as an underlying disease mechanism. The comparative modeling studies expand our insights into BEST1 pathogenesis. PublicationRecombinant AAV-Mediated BEST1 Transfer to the Retinal Pigment Epithelium: Analysis of Serotype-Dependent Retinal Effects(2013-10-15) Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Komáromy, András M; Guziewicz, Karina E; Zangerl, Barbara; Aguirre, Gustavo D; Komáromy, András M; Beltran, William; Iwabe, Simone; Chiodo, Vincent A; Boye, Sanford L; Hauswirth, William W; Beltran, WilliamMutations in the BEST1 gene constitute an underlying cause of juvenile macular dystrophies, a group of retinal disorders commonly referred to as bestrophinopathies and usually diagnosed in early childhood or adolescence. The disease primarily affects macular and paramacular regions of the eye leading to major declines in central vision later in life. Currently, there is no cure or surgical management for BEST1-associated disorders. The recently characterized human disease counterpart, canine multifocal retinopathy (cmr), recapitulates a full spectrum of clinical and molecular features observed in human bestrophinopathies and offers a valuable model system for development and testing of therapeutic strategies. In this study, the specificity, efficiency and safety of rAAV-mediated transgene expression driven by the human VMD2 promoter were assessed in wild-type canine retinae. While the subretinal delivery of rAAV2/1 vector serotype was associated with cone damage in the retina when BEST1 and GFP were co-expressed, the rAAV2/2 vector serotype carrying either GFP reporter or BEST1 transgene under control of human VMD2 promoter was safe, and enabled specific transduction of the RPE cell monolayer that was stable for up to 6 months post injection. These encouraging studies with the rAAV2/2 vector lay the groundwork for development of gene augmentation therapy for human bestrophinopathies.