Cloning of a human homologue of the Xenopus laevis APX gene from the ocular albinism type 1 critical region

M. Vittoria Schiaffino, Maria T. Bassi, Elena I. Rugarli, Alessandra Renieri, Lucia Galli, Andrea Ballabio

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Ocular albinism type 1 (OA1) is an X-linked recessive disorder characterized by a major impairment of visual acuity, nystagmus, strabismus, photophobia and retinal hypopigmentation. From the analysis of patients carrying deletions and translocations involving the distal short arm of the X chromosome (Xp22.3) we have identified a region of approximately 110 kb in which the OA1 gene must lie. We have extensively searched for genes in this region using a variety of techniques which included exon amplification, cDNA selection and direct hybridization of cosmid inserts to cDNA libraries. Putative exons identified by exon amplification were used to screen a human retina cDNA library and several cDNA clones corresponding to an approximately 7.5 kb transcript were isolated and characterized. Transcripts of this newly identified gene were found to be abundant in retina and melanoma and could also be detected in brain, placenta, lung, kidney and pancreas. Interestingly, sequence analysis revealed that this new gene encodes a 1616 amino acid protein sharing significant similarities with the Apical Protein from Xenopus laevis (APX) which is implicated in amiloride-sensitive sodium channel activity. The gene, termed APXL (APX-Like), spans approximately 160 kb, contains 10 exons and covers over 70% of the 110 kb critical region for OA1. A truncated pseudogene sharing very high levels of homology with the rat eIF-5 gene, a eukaryotic translation initiation factor, was found to lie in the middle of intron 1. APXL was found deleted in two patients with contiguous gene syndromes including OA1 and in one patient with isolated OA1. Mapping, expression and patient analysis data led us to consider the APXL gene a strong candidate for the OA1 gene. DNA from 57 unrelated patients with OA1 was, therefore, scanned for mutations in the coding region, using both SSCP analysis and direct sequencing. No functionally significant mutation was identified, suggesting that APXL is not directly involved in OA1. Further studies are needed to clarify the physiologic role of this highly conserved gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-382
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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