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Hum Mol Genet. 2004 Sep 15;13(18):2075-87. Epub 2004 Jul 14.

The R172W mutation in peripherin/rds causes a cone-rod dystrophy in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Peripherin/rds (P/rds) is a membrane glycoprotein essential for the photoreceptor outer segment disc morphogenesis and maintenance. More than half of the disease-causing mutations in P/rds have been linked to different forms of macular dystrophy; the most common one is substitution of tryptophan for arginine at position 172 (R172W). Here we confirm the patient phenotype associated with the expression of R172W mutation in transgenic mice. Functional, structural and biochemical analyses showed that, while R172W P/rds is appropriately localized, a direct correlation exists between transgene expression levels and the onset/severity of the phenotype. In the wild-type background, both cone and rod photoreceptors' structure and function were significantly diminished, which indicates a dominant-negative, cone-rod defect. Whereas rds(+/-) mice maintained the normal cone function at early ages, cone responses in R172W/rds(+/-) mice were diminished to 41% of the wild-type level signifying a preferential damaging effect of the mutation on cones. Conversely, R172W/rds(+/-) mice showed a significant rescue of rod function and improvement of rod outer segment structure. Although rds(-/-) mice have no detectable rod or cone responses, R172W/rds(-/-) animals retained 30% of wild-type structure and rod function, but no significant rescue of cone function was detected at 1 month of age. No biochemical abnormalities were observed in complex formation and association with Rom-1; however, R172W protein was more sensitive to tryptic digestion, indicative of a change in protein conformation, possibly contributing to the cone-dominated phenotype. As the first animal model for P/rds-associated cone-rod dystrophy, R172W mice provide a valuable tool for studying the pathophysiology of P/rds-associated human retinal dystrophies and the development of therapeutic strategies to intervene in these diseases.

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