Retinal dystrophies, genomic applications in diagnosis and prospects for therapy
Retinal dystrophies (RDs) are degenerative diseases of the retina which have marked clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Common presentations among these disorders include night or colour blindness, tunnel vision and subsequent progression to complete blindness. The known causative disease genes have a variety of developmental and functional roles with mutations in more than 120 genes shown to be responsible for the phenotypes. In addition, mutations within the same gene have been shown to cause different disease phenotypes, even amongst affected individuals within the same family highlighting further levels of complexity. The known disease genes encode proteins involved in retinal cellular structures, phototransduction, the visual cycle, and photoreceptor structure or gene regulation. This review aims to demonstrate the high degree of genetic complexity in both the causative disease genes and their associated phenotypes, highlighting the more common clinical manifestation of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The review also provides insight to recent advances in genomic molecular diagnosis and gene and cell-based therapies for the RDs.