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Mol Vis. 2010 Feb 10;16:178-83.

Alu-element insertion in an OPA1 intron sequence associated with autosomal dominant optic atrophy.

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  • 1Department of Neurological, Neurosurgical and Behavioural Sciences, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy.



Autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) is the most common form of hereditary optic neuropathy caused by mutations in the optic atrophy 1 (OPA1) gene. It is characterized by insidious onset with a selective degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, variable loss of visual acuity, temporal optic nerve pallor, tritanopia, and development of central, paracentral, or cecocentral scotomas. Here we describe the clinical and molecular findings in a large Italian family with ADOA.


Routine ophthalmologic examination and direct sequencing of all coding regions of the OPA1 gene were performed. Further characterization of a new OPA1 gene insertion was performed by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) of RNA from patients and control subjects.


We identified an Alu-element insertion located in intron 7 of OPA1 causing an in-frame deletion of exon 8 in 18 family members.


The predicted consequence of this mutation is the loss of the guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) activity of OPA1. Alu insertions have been reported in the literature as causing human genetic disease. However, this is the first report of a pathogenic OPA1 gene mutation resulting from an Alu insertion.

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