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Importance: Many common inherited retinal diseases are not easily treated with gene therapy. Gene editing with base editors may allow the targeted repair of single-nucleotide transition variants in DNA and RNA. It is unknown how many patients have pathogenic variants that are correctable with a base editing strategy. Objective: To assess the prevalence and spectrum of pathogenic single-nucleotide variants amenable to base editing in common large recessively inherited genes that are associated with inherited retinal degeneration. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this retrospective cross-sectional study, nonidentifiable records of patients with biallelic pathogenic variants of genes associated with inherited retinal degeneration between July 2013 and December 2019 were analyzed using data from the Oxford University Hospitals Medical Genetics Laboratories, the Leiden Open Variation Database, and previously published studies. Six candidate genes (ABCA4, CDH23, CEP290, EYS, MYO7A, and USH2A), which were determined to be the most common recessive genes with coding sequences not deliverable in a single adeno-associated viral vector, were examined. Data were analyzed from April 16 to May 11, 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Proportion of alleles with a pathogenic transition variant that is potentially correctable with a base editing strategy and proportion of patients with a base-editable allele. Results: A total of 12 369 alleles from the Leiden Open Variation Database and 179 patients who received diagnoses through the genetic service of the Oxford University Hospitals Medical Genetics Laboratories were analyzed. Editable variants accounted for 53% of all pathogenic variants in the candidate genes contained in the Leiden Open Variation Database. The proportion of pathogenic alleles that were editable varied by gene; 63.1% of alleles in ABCA4, 62.7% of alleles in CDH23, 53.8% of alleles in MYO7A, 41.6% of alleles in CEP290, 37.3% of alleles in USH2A, and 22.2% of alleles in EYS were editable. The 5 most common editable pathogenic variants of each gene accounted for a mean (SD) of 19.1% (9.5%) of all pathogenic alleles within each gene. In the Oxford cohort, 136 of 179 patients (76.0%) had at least 1 editable allele. A total of 53 of 107 patients (49.5%) with biallelic pathogenic variants in the gene ABCA4 and 16 of 56 patients (28.6%) with biallelic pathogenic variants in the gene USH2A had 1 of the 5 most common editable alleles. Conclusions and Relevance: This study found that pathogenic variants amenable to base editing commonly occur in inherited retinal degeneration. These findings, if generalized to other cohorts, provide an approach for developing base editing therapies to treat retinal degeneration not amenable to gene therapy.

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Journal article


JAMA Ophthalmol

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