Mutation of ATF6 causes autosomal recessive achromatopsia.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Human genetics (2015)


Achromatopsia (ACHM) is an early-onset retinal dystrophy characterized by photophobia, nystagmus, color blindness and severely reduced visual acuity. Currently mutations in five genes CNGA3, CNGB3, GNAT2, PDE6C and PDE6H have been implicated in ACHM. We performed homozygosity mapping and linkage analysis in a consanguineous Pakistani ACHM family and mapped the locus to a 15.12-Mb region on chromosome 1q23.1-q24.3 with a maximum LOD score of 3.6. A DNA sample from an affected family member underwent exome sequencing. Within the ATF6 gene, a single-base insertion variant c.355_356dupG (p.Glu119Glyfs*8) was identified, which completely segregates with the ACHM phenotype within the family. The frameshift variant was absent in public variant databases, in 130 exomes from unrelated Pakistani individuals, and in 235 ethnically matched controls. The variant is predicted to result in a truncated protein that lacks the DNA binding and transmembrane domains and therefore affects the function of ATF6 as a transcription factor that initiates the unfolded protein response during endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Immunolabeling with anti-ATF6 antibodies showed localization throughout the mouse neuronal retina, including retinal pigment epithelium, photoreceptor cells, inner nuclear layer, inner and outer plexiform layers, with a more prominent signal in retinal ganglion cells. In contrast to cytoplasmic expression of wild-type protein, in heterologous cells ATF6 protein with the p.Glu119Glyfs*8 variant is mainly confined to the nucleus. Our results imply that response to ER stress as mediated by the ATF6 pathway is essential for color vision in humans.