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Nonsense mutation in MERTK causes autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa in a consanguineous Pakistani family
  1. Amber Shahzadi1,
  2. S Amer Riazuddin1,
  3. Shahbaz Ali1,
  4. David Li2,
  5. Shaheen N Khan1,
  6. Tayyab Husnain1,
  7. Javed Akram3,
  8. Paul A Sieving2,
  9. J Fielding Hejtmancik2,
  10. Sheikh Riazuddin1,3
  1. 1National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
  2. 2Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Allama Iqbal Medical College, University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sheikh Riazuddin, National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology, 87 West Canal Bank Road, Lahore 53700, Pakistan; riaz{at}


Background Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is one of the most common ophthalmic disorders affecting one in approximately 5000 people worldwide. A nuclear family was recruited from the Punjab province of Pakistan to study the genetic basis of autosomal recessive RP.

Methods All affected individuals underwent a thorough ophthalmic examination and the disease was characterised based upon results for fundus photographs and electroretinogram recordings. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral leucocytes. Exclusion studies were performed with short tandem repeat (STR) markers flanking reported autosomal recessive RP loci. Haplotypes were constructed and results were statistically evaluated.

Results The results of exclusion analyses suggested that family PKRP173 was linked to chromosome 2q harbouring mer tyrosine kinase protooncogene (MERTK), a gene previously associated with autosomal recessive RP. Additional STR markers refined the critical interval and placed it in a 13.4 cM (17 Mb) region flanked by D2S293 proximally and D2S347 distally. Significant logarithm of odds (LOD) scores of 3.2, 3.25 and 3.18 at θ=0 were obtained with markers D2S1896, D2S2269 and D2S160. Sequencing of the coding exons of MERTK identified a mutation, c.718G→T in exon 4, which results in a premature termination of p.E240X that segregates with the disease phenotype in the family.

Conclusion Our results strongly suggest that the nonsense mutation in MERTK, leading to premature termination of the protein, is responsible for RP phenotype in the affected individuals of the Pakistani family.

  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • retina
  • genetics

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  • AS, SAR, JFH and SR contributed equally to this study.

  • Funding This study was supported, in part by Higher Education Commission and Ministry of Science and Technology Islamabad, Pakistan.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Institutional Review Board approval was obtained for this study from the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology (CEMB) (Lahore, Pakistan) and the National Eye Institute (Bethesda, Maryland, USA).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.