The Retinitis Pigmentosa Mutation c.3444+1G>A in CNGB1 Results in Skipping of Exon 32
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a severe hereditary eye disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of photoreceptors and subsequent loss of vision. Two of the RP associated mutations were found in the CNGB1 gene that encodes the B subunit of the rod cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (CNGB1a). One of them (c.3444+1G>A) is located at the donor site of exon 32 and has been proposed to result in a frameshift and truncation of the last 28 aa of the corresponding protein. However, this ambiguous conclusion was not verified by experimental data. Recently, another study reported that the last 28 aa of CNGB1a harbor a motif required for the proper targeting of this subunit to rod photoreceptor outer segments. This suggests that defective targeting is the major cause for the RP phenotype in affected patients. Here, we investigated the splicing of c.3444+1G>A by exon trapping experiments and could demonstrate that instead of the proposed truncation of the last 28 aa this mutation leads to replacement of the last 170 aa of CNGB1a by 68 unrelated amino acids. The 170 aa deletion covers the complete distal C-terminus including the last 10 aa of an important alpha (αC) helix within the ligand-binding domain of CNGB1a. When expressed in a heterologous expression system the corresponding mutant full-length CNGB1a subunit was more susceptible to proteosomal degradation compared to the wild-type counterpart. In conclusion, our experimental data do not support the hypothesis proposed by the original study on the c.3444+1G>A mutation. Based on this, we suggest that apart from the defective targeting other mechanisms may be responsible for the RP phenotype in affected individuals.