Mutated alleles of the rod and cone Na-Ca+K-exchanger genes in patients with retinal diseases

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PURPOSE. To study the possible involvement of the rod (SLC24A1) and cone (SLC24A2) Na-Ca+K exchanger (NCKX) genes in retinal diseases. METHODS. DNA was collected from unrelated patients with retinal disease, mainly from North America. A human genomic library was screened with the cone NCKX cDNA, and hybridizing clones were sequenced to determine the genomic organization of the SLC24A2 gene. The single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) technique and direct sequencing were used to screen the patients' DNA for mutations in SLC24A1 and SLC24A2. The effect of selected missense changes on protein function was tested by measuring potassium-dependent Na-Ca exchange of the mutant proteins expressed in insect cells. RESULTS. Twenty-seven novel sequence changes were found in the rod NCKX gene, 21 of which are unlikely to be pathogenic, because they did not cosegregate with the disease or did not affect conserved regions of the protein. Of the remaining six, two were frameshift mutations found in one patient each. If translated, these alleles would encode nonfunctional proteins. Three of the six possibly pathogenic mutations were missense changes located in conserved regions, and their protein functions were assayed. Only one (Ile992Thr) had a significantly low level of exchanger function, but it was found in two unrelated patients who were heterozygotes with different retinal diseases, and this mutation could not be unequivocally associated with either disease. The last of the six changes is likely to create a new splice acceptor site. The genomic organization of the cone NCKX gene was determined, and it contained 11 exons with a few splice variants. Fifteen novel sequence changes were identified in the cone exchanger gene in patients with a cone dysfunction or degeneration. Only three of these sequence changes, all missense changes found in heterozygous patients, were considered possibly pathogenic. Functional analysis showed only a slight reduction in the activity of the corresponding mutant proteins. CONCLUSIONS. Although variant alleles of the rod and cone NCKX genes were found, none could be definitively associated with a specific retinal disease. The human phenotype associated with mutant exchanger alleles remains unknown.


  • D Sharon
  • H Yamamoto
  • TL McGee
  • V Rabe
  • RT Szerencsei
  • R Winkfein
  • CFM Prinsen
  • CS Barnes
  • Sten Andréasson
  • GA Fishman
  • PPM Schnetkamp
  • EL Berson
  • TP Dryja
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ophthalmology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1971-1979
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch