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Genetic Cause of Inherited Eye Diseases Identified

se, obesity, polydactyly, diabetes, and retinal degeneration; Senior-Loken Syndrome, which causes kidney disease and retinal degeneration; Joubert Syndrome, which causes neurological disease, kidney disease, and retinal degeneration; Usher Syndrome, which causes deafness and blindness; and Meckel Syndrome, which causes kidney disease and neural tube defects.

Lead author Qin Liu, MD, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, and Pierce collaborated with a team at The Wistar Institute led by David Speicher to perform the analyses for this study. The researchers used mass spectrometry to identify and measure the amounts of proteins in mouse photoreceptor sensory cilia. They found many proteins in the cilia that had not been identified in photoreceptors before. This includes proteins involved in intraflagellar transport, which is a process that moves materials from the cell body into the cilia. Mutations in proteins associated with this transport system lead to a number of cilia-related diseases.

The investigators also found 60 proteins encoded by genes on chromosomes implicated in 23 inherited cilia-related disorders. Armed with this knowledge, researchers hope to be able to more quickly find the exact genetic mutations that cause these 23 cilia diseases, which include eye and kidney diseases, among others.

Pierce is a pediatric ophthalmologist who specializes in caring for children with inherited retinal degenerations. He says that about half of his patients with degenerative eye diseases have a type of disease that can be identified according to its genetic mutation. He believes that this research will help identify the genetic causes behind the other half of his patients conditions.

Were narrowing the field, says Pierce. This research in and of itself cant find a cure, but its a great start because it tells you what proteins to study.


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