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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1997 Sep;38(10):1983-97.

Disease expression in X-linked retinitis pigmentosa caused by a putative null mutation in the RPGR gene.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.



To determine the disease expression in X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP) caused by a putative null mutation in the RPGR (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator) gene.


In a family with XLRP, haplotype analysis was performed with polymorphic microsatellite markers from the Xp chromosomal region, and genomic polymerase chain reaction sequencing was used to identify sequence variations in the RPGR gene. Hemizygotes and heterozygotes were evaluated clinically and with visual function tests. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was performed on heterozygotes. Postmortem donor retinas from a heterozygote were examined by microscopy and immunocytochemistry.


X-linked inheritance was confirmed by haplotype analysis using Xp markers. Sequence analysis of the RPGR gene identified a single base pair change, a G-->T transversion, that converts codon 52 GGA (Gly) to TGA (stop codon); the mutation segregates with the disease. A hemizygote in the third decade of life had barely measurable rod function and severely impaired cone function that diminished further over a 7-year interval. Heterozygotes varied in degree of disease expression from mild to severe. Perimetry showed loci with normal rod and cone sensitivity interspersed with loci having either equal rod and cone dysfunction or rod > cone dysfunction. Electroretinographic photoreceptor responses had equal reductions in rod and cone maximal amplitude. OCT cross sectional reflectance images of retinal regions with severe dysfunction showed reduced thickness of the retina and retinal pigment epithelium-choriocapillaris (RPE-CC) complex and increased reflections posteriorly. Regions with mild dysfunction showed similar OCT findings but with preserved retinal thickness. Retinal histopathology in a heterozygote revealed loss of photoreceptors throughout, with retention of only a few islands of cones with tiny or absent outer segments and rods lacking outer segments.


This RPGR gene mutation, in its mildest expression in heterozygotes, causes a relatively equal disturbance of rod and cone photoreceptor function. Detectable structural change by OCT at the level of the RPE-CC can be present in patches of retina with minimal functional disturbance. More advanced disease stages in heterozygotes show greater rod than cone dysfunction, and the end stage in hemizygotes and heterozygotes is that of typical RP, with only barely detectable cone function from residual cones in a thinned retina with abnormal RPE and choriocapillaris.

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