Loss-of-function variants in UBAP1L cause autosomal recessive retinal degeneration.

TitleLoss-of-function variants in UBAP1L cause autosomal recessive retinal degeneration.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsHan, JHoon, Rodenburg, K, Hayman, T, Calzetti, G, Kaminska, K, Quinodoz, M, Marra, M, Wallerich, S, Allon, G, Nagy, ZZ, Knézy, K, Li, Y, Chen, R, Barboni, MTelles Sal, Yang, P, Pennesi, ME, L van den Born, I, Varsányi, B, Szabó, V, Sharon, D, Banin, E, Ben-Yosef, T, Roosing, S, Koenekoop, RK, Rivolta, C
JournalGenet Med
Date Published2024 Feb 26

PURPOSE: Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are a group of monogenic conditions that can lead to progressive blindness. Their missing heritability is still considerable, due in part to the presence of disease genes that await molecular identification. The purpose of this work was to identify novel genetic associations with IRDs.

METHODS: Patients underwent a comprehensive ophthalmological evaluation using standard-of-care tests, such as detailed retinal imaging (macular OCT, short-wavelength fundus autofluorescence) and electrophysiological testing. Exome and genome sequencing, as well as computer-assisted data analysis were used for genotyping and detection of DNA variants. A minigene-driven splicing assay was performed to validate the deleterious effects of one of such variants.

RESULTS: We identified 8 unrelated families from Hungary, the United States, Israel, and the Netherlands with members presenting with a form of autosomal recessive and nonsyndromic retinal degeneration, predominantly described as rod-cone dystrophy but also including cases of cone / cone-rod dystrophy. Age of disease onset was very variable, with some patients experiencing first symptoms during their fourth decade of life or later. Myopia greater than 5 diopters was present in 5 of 7 cases with available refractive data, and retinal detachment was reported in 2 cases. All ascertained patients carried biallelic loss-of-function variants in UBAP1L (HGNC: 40028), a gene with unknown function and with homologies to UBAP1, encoding a protein involved in ubiquitin metabolism. One of these pathogenic variants, the intronic NM_001163692.2:c.910-7G>A substitution, was identified in five unrelated families. Minigene-driven splicing assays in HEK293T cells confirmed that this DNA change is responsible for the creation of a new acceptor splice site, resulting in aberrant splicing.

CONCLUSION: We identified UBAP1L as a novel IRD gene. Although its function is currently unknown, UBAP1L is almost exclusively expressed in photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium, hence possibly explaining the link between pathogenic variants in this gene and an ocular phenotype.

Alternate JournalGenet Med
PubMed ID38420906