Identification of geographic population-based differences in genotype and phenotype heterogeneity are important for targeted and patient-specific diagnosis and treatment, counseling, and screening strategies.
To report disease-causing variants and their detailed phenotype in patients with bilateral congenital cataract from a single center in Switzerland and thereby draw a genetic map and perform a genotype-phenotype comparison of this cohort.
This clinical and molecular-genetic cohort study took place through the collaboration of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital Zurich and the Institute of Medical Molecular Genetics, University of Zurich, Schlieren, Switzerland. Thirty-seven patients from 25 families with different types of bilateral congenital cataract were included. All participating family members received a comprehensive eye examination. Whole exome sequencing was performed in the index patients, followed by a filtering process to detect possible disease-associated variants in genes previously described in association with congenital cataract. Probable disease-causing variants were confirmed by Sanger sequencing in available family members. All data were collected from January 2018 to June 2020, and the molecular-genetic analyses were performed from January 2019 to July 2020.
Identification of the underlying genetic causes of bilateral congenital cataract, including novel disease-causing variants and phenotype correlation.
Among the 37 patients (18 [49%] male and 19 [51%] female; mean [SD] age, 17.3 [15.9] years) from 25 families, pathogenic variants were detected in 20 families (80% detection rate), which included 13 novel variants in the following genes: BCOR, COL4A1, CRYBA2, CRYBB2, CRYGC, CRYGS, GJA3, MAF, NHS, and WFS1. Putative disease-causing variants were identified in 14 of 20 families (70%) as isolated cases and in 6 of 20 families (30%) with syndromic cases. A recessive variant in the CRYBB2 gene in a consanguineous family with 2 affected siblings showing a nuclear and sutural cataract was reported in contrast to previously published reports. In addition, the effect on splicing in a minigene assay of a novel splice site variant in the NHS gene (c.[719-2A>G]) supported the pathogenicity of this variant.
This study emphasizes the importance of genetic testing of congenital cataracts. Known dominant genes need to be considered for recessive inheritance patterns. Syndromic types of cataract may be underdiagnosed in patients with mild systemic features.