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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Dec;86(24):9722-6.

Isolation of a candidate cDNA for the gene causing retinal degeneration in the rd mouse.

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Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1990 Feb;87(4):1625.


The inherited retinal degeneration of the rd mouse results in the exclusive loss of one cell type, the photoreceptors. We took advantage of this visual-cell loss to devise a strategy for the isolation of photoreceptor-specific cDNAs based on the use of subtractive and differential hybridizations. The resulting pool of photoreceptor-specific cDNAs was screened for a candidate cDNA for the rd gene, and a putative rd cDNA that maps to mouse chromosome 5, the chromosome to which the rd gene has been assigned, was identified. On Northern blots the candidate rd cDNA hybridizes a 3.3-kilobase RNA species from 9- to 11-day-old developing normal retina and, much more faintly, a 3.6-kb RNA species from age-matched rd retina. The 0.3-kilobase difference in the size of the mRNAs hybridized suggests that a structural alteration in the gene corresponding to the candidate rd cDNA has occurred in the rd mouse. This was further supported by the detection of polymorphisms between rd/rd and +/+ mouse genomic DNA after digestion with restriction endonucleases and probing with the candidate rd cDNA. Expression of mRNAs hybridized by the candidate rd cDNA is detected in normal and diseased retinas at postnatal day 1 but the signal intensity is considerably lower in the rd retina. To our knowledge, this is the earliest molecular defect reported in the rd retina that is observed prior to any phenotypic signs of photoreceptor degeneration.

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