Background More than 1500 variants in the ATP-binding cassette, sub-family A, member 4 (ABCA4), locus underlie a heterogeneous spectrum of retinal disorders ranging from aggressive childhood-onset chorioretinopathy to milder late-onset macular disease. Genotype-phenotype correlation studies have been limited in clinical applicability as patient cohorts are typically small and seldom capture the full natural history of individual genotypes. To overcome these limitations, we constructed a genotype-phenotype correlation matrix that provides quantifiable probabilities of long-term disease outcomes associated with specific ABCA4 genotypes from a large, age-restricted patient cohort.Methods The study included 112 unrelated patients at least 50 years of age in whom 2 pathogenic variants were identified after sequencing of the ABCA4 locus. Clinical characterization was performed using the results of best corrected visual acuity, retinal imaging, and full-field electroretinogram testing.Results Four distinct prognostic groups were defined according to the spatial severity of disease features across the fundus. Recurring genotypes were observed in milder prognoses, including a newly defined class of rare hypomorphic alleles. PVS1 (predicted null) variants were enriched in the most severe prognoses; however, missense variants were present in a larger-than-expected fraction of these patients. Analysis of allele combinations and their respective prognostic severity showed that certain variants, such as p.(Gly1961Glu), and both rare and frequent hypomorphic alleles, were “clinically dominant” with respect to patient phenotypes irrespective of the allele in trans.Conclusion These results provide much-needed structure to the complex genetic and clinical landscape of ABCA4 disease and add a tool to the clinical repertoire to quantitatively assess individual genotype-specific prognoses in patients.FUNDING National Eye Institute, NIH, grants R01 EY028203, R01 EY028954, R01 EY029315, P30 19007 (Core Grant for Vision Research); the Foundation Fighting Blindness USA, grant no. PPA-1218-0751-COLU; and Research to Prevent Blindness.
Winston Lee, Jana Zernant, Pei-Yin Su, Takayuki Nagasaki, Stephen H. Tsang, Rando Allikmets
Classification and phenotypic characterization of mild