Inherited retinal dystrophies are a group of disorders characterized by the progressive degeneration of photoreceptors leading to loss of the visual function and eventually to legal blindness. Although next generation sequencing (NGS) has revolutionized the molecular diagnosis of these diseases, the pathogenicity of some mutations casts doubts. After the screening of 208 patients with a panel of 117 genes, we obtained 383 variants that were analysed in silico with bioinformatic prediction programs. Based on the results of these tools, we selected 15 variants for their functional assessment. Therefore, we carried out minigene assays to unveil whether they could affect the splicing of the corresponding gene. As a whole, seven variants were found to induce aberrant splicing in the following genes: BEST1, CACNA2D4, PRCD, RIMS1, FSCN2, MERTK and MAK. This study shows the efficacy of a workflow, based on the association of the Minimum Allele Frequency, family co-segregation, in silico predictions and in vitro assays to determine the effect of potential splice site variants identified by DNA-based NGS. These findings improve the molecular diagnosis of inherited retinal dystrophies and will allow some patients to benefit from the upcoming gene-based therapeutic strategies.
© 2022. The Author(s).