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Identification of splice defects due to noncanonical splice site or deep-intronic variants in ABCA4.

  • Author(s): Fadaie, Zeinab
  • Khan, Mubeen
  • Del Pozo-Valero, Marta
  • Cornelis, Stéphanie S
  • Ayuso, Carmen
  • Cremers, Frans PM
  • Roosing, Susanne
  • The Abca Study Group
  • et al.

Pathogenic variants in the ATP-binding cassette transporter A4 (ABCA4) gene cause a continuum of retinal disease phenotypes, including Stargardt disease. Noncanonical splice site (NCSS) and deep-intronic variants constitute a large fraction of disease-causing alleles, defining the functional consequences of which remains a challenge. We aimed to determine the effect on splicing of nine previously reported or unpublished NCSS variants, one near exon splice variant and nine deep-intronic variants in ABCA4, using in vitro splice assays in human embryonic kidney 293T cells. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Sanger sequence analysis revealed splicing defects for 12 out of 19 variants. Four deep-intronic variants create pseudoexons or elongate the upstream exon. Furthermore, eight NCSS variants cause a partial deletion or skipping of one or more exons in messenger RNAs. Among the 12 variants, nine lead to premature stop codons and predicted truncated ABCA4 proteins. At least two deep-intronic variants affect splice enhancer and silencer motifs and, therefore, these conserved sequences should be carefully evaluated when predicting the outcome of NCSS and deep-intronic variants.

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