Familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEVR) is a complex hereditary eye disorder characterized by incomplete development of the retinal vasculature, which thereby affects retinal angiogenesis. But the genetic factors contributing to FEVR’s development or pathogenesis remain elusive. In a Chinese family with FEVR with 19 members, by using whole-exome sequencing, we identified a candidate disease-causing DNA variant in sorting nexin 31 (SNX31) (c.963delG; p. Trp321Cys), which results in a frameshift mutation. We studied the biochemical mechanism of this mutation and determined that it is deficient in β1-integrin binding and stability. The SNX31 c.963delG point mutation mouse model (SNX31m/m) was constructed with CRISPR/Cas9 technology. At 2–4 months of age, SNX31m/m mice showed fundus phenotypes similar to FEVR-like changes, including vascular leakage and retinal atrophy. Moreover, we found that VEGF and apoptotic pathways were involved in these ocular phenotypes. Hence, our study extended the FEVR mutation spectrum to include SNX31. These findings expanded our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of FEVR and may facilitate the development of methods for the diagnosis and prevention of FEVR.
Ningda Xu, Yi Cai, Jiarui Li, Tianchang Tao, Caifei Liu, Yan Shen, Xiaoxin Li, Leiliang Zhang, Mingwei Zhao, Xuan Shi, Jing Li, Lvzhen Huang