Whole exome sequencing identifies CRB1 defect in an unusual maculopathy phenotype

Stephen H Tsang, Tomas Burke, Maris Oll, Suzanne Yzer, Winston Lee, Yajing Angela Xie, Rando Allikmets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To report a new phenotype caused by mutations in the CRB1 gene in a family with 2 affected siblings.

DESIGN: Molecular genetics and observational case studies.

PARTICIPANTS: Two affected siblings and 3 unaffected family members.

METHODS: Each subject received a complete ophthalmic examination together with color fundus photography, fundus autofluorescence (FAF), and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Microperimetry 1 (MP-1) mapping and electroretinogram (ERG) analysis were performed on the proband. Screening for disease-causing mutations was performed by whole exome sequencing in 3 family members followed by segregation analyses in the entire family.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Appearance of the macula as examined by clinical examination, fundus photography, FAF imaging, SD-OCT, and visual function by MP-1 and ERG.

RESULTS: The proband and her affected brother exhibited unusual, previously unreported, findings of a macular dystrophy with relative sparing of the retinal periphery beyond the vascular arcades. The FAF imaging showed severely affected areas of hypoautofluorescence that extended nasally beyond the optic disc in both eyes. A central macular patch of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) sparing was evident in both eyes on FAF, whereas photoreceptor sparing was documented in the right eye only using SD-OCT. The affected brother presented with irregular patterns of autofluorescence in both eyes characterized by concentric rings of alternating hyper- and hypoautofluorescence, and foveal sparing of photoreceptors and RPE, as seen on SD-OCT, bilaterally. After negative results in screening for mutations in candidate genes including ABCA4 and PRPH2, DNA from 3 members of the family, including both affected siblings and their mother, was screened by whole exome sequencing resulting in identification of 2 CRB1 missense mutations, c.C3991T:p.R1331C and c.C4142T:p.P1381L, which segregated with the disease in the family. Of the 2, the p.R1331C CRB1 mutation has not been described before and the p.P1381L variant has been described in 1 patient with Leber congenital amaurosis.

CONCLUSIONS: This report illustrates a novel presentation of a macular dystrophy caused by CRB1 mutations. Both affected siblings exhibited a relatively well-developed retinal structure and preservation of generalized retinal function. An unusual 5-year progression of macular atrophy alone was observed that has not been described in any other CRB1-associated phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1773-82
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • Adult
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Eye Proteins/genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration/genetics
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins/genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins/genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA/methods
  • Siblings


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