Abstract

Mutations in the ORF15 exon of the RPGR gene cause a common form of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, which often results in severe loss of vision. In dogs and mice, gene augmentation therapy has been shown to arrest the progressive degeneration of rod and cone photoreceptors. However, the distribution of potentially treatable photoreceptors across the human retinas and the rate of degeneration are not known. Here, we have defined structural and functional features of the disease in 70 individuals with ORF15 mutations. We also correlated the features observed in patients with those of three Rpgr-mutant (Rpgr-ko, Rd9, and Rpgr-cko) mice. In patients, there was pronounced macular disease. Across the retina, rod and cone dysfunction showed a range of patterns and a spectrum of severity between individuals, but a high symmetry was observed between eyes of each individual. Genotype was not related to disease expression. In the Rpgr-ko mice, there were intra-retinal differences in rhodopsin and cone opsin trafficking. In Rd9 and Rpgr-cko mice, retinal degeneration showed inter-ocular symmetry. Longitudinal results in patients revealed localized rod and cone dysfunction with progression rates of 1.3 to 2.5 log per decade in sensitivity loss. Relatively retained rod and cone photoreceptors in mid- and far-peripheral temporal-inferior and nasal-inferior visual field regions should be good targets for future localized gene therapies in patients.

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