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Redundant contribution of a Transient Receptor Potential cation channel Member 1 exon 11 single nucleotide polymorphism to equine congenital stationary night blindness



Congenital stationary night-blindness (CSNB) is a recessive autosomal defect in low-light vision in Appaloosa and other horse breeds. This condition has been mapped by linkage analysis to a gene coding for the Transient Receptor Potential cation channel Member 1 (TRPM1). TRPM1 is normally expressed in the ON-bipolar cells of the inner nuclear layer of the retina. Down-regulation of TRPM1 expression in CSNB results from a transposon-like insertion in intron 1 of the TRPM1 gene. Stop transcription signals in this transposon significantly reduce TRPM1 primary transcript levels in CSNB horses. This study describes additional contributions by a second mutation of the TRPM1 gene, the ECA1 108,249,293 C > T SNP, to down-regulation of transcription of the TRPM1 gene in night-blind horses. This TRPM1 SNP introduces a consensus binding site for neuro-oncological ventral antigen 1 (Nova-1) protein in the primary transcript. Nova-1 binding disrupts normal splicing signals, producing unstable, non-functional mRNA transcripts.


Retinal bipolar cells express both TRPM1 and Nova-1 proteins. In vitro addition of Nova-1 protein retards electrophoretic migration of TRPM1 RNA containing the ECA1 108,249,293 C > T SNP. Up-regulating Nova-1 expression in primary cultures of choroidal melanocytes carrying the intron 11 SNP caused an average log 2-fold reduction of ~6 (64-fold) of TRPM1 mRNA expression.


These finding suggest that the equine TRPM1 SNP can act independently to reduce survival of TRPM1 mRNA escaping the intron 1 transcriptional stop signals in CSNB horses. Coexistence and co-inheritance of two independent TRPM1 mutations across 1000 equine generations suggests a selective advantage for the apparently deleterious CSNB trait.

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