High prevalence of exon-13 variants in USH2A-related retinal dystrophies in Taiwanese population

Pei-Lung Chen
Jun, 2024
Background: Biallelic pathogenic variants in USH2A lead to Usher syndrome or non-syndromic retinitis pigmentosa, and shown to have geographical and ethnical distribution in previous studies. This study provided a deeper understanding of the detailed clinical features using multimodal imaging, genetic spectrum, and genotype-phenotype correlations of USH2A-related retinal dystrophies in Taiwan. Results: In our cohort, the mean age at first visit was 47.66 ± 13.54 years, and the mean age at symptom onset, which was referred to the onset of nyctalopia and/or visual field constriction, was 31.21 ± 15.24 years. Among the variants identified, 23 (50%) were missense, 10 (22%) were splicing variants, 8 (17%) were nonsense, and 5 (11%) were frameshift mutations. The most predominant variant was c.2802T>G, which accounted for 21% of patients, and was located in exon 13. Patients with truncated alleles had significantly earlier symptom onset and seemly poorer disease progression regarding visual acuity, ellipsoid zone line length, and hypofluorescent lesions in the macula than those who had the complete gene. However, the clinical presentation revealed similar progression between patients with and without the c.2802T>G variant. During long-term follow-up, the patients had different ellipsoid zone line progression rates and were almost evenly distributed in the fast, moderate, and slow progression subgroups. Although a younger onset age and a smaller baseline intact macular area was observed in the fast progression subgroup, the results showed no significant difference. Conclusions: This is the first cohort study to provide detailed genetic and longitudinal clinical analyses of patients with USH2A-related retinal dystrophies in Taiwan. The mutated allele frequency in exon 13 was high in Taiwan due to the predominant c.2802T>G variant. Moreover, truncated variants greatly impacted disease progression and determined the length of therapeutic windows. These findings provide insight into the characteristics of candidates for future gene therapies.