A novel mutation in KRT12 associated with Meesmann’s epithelial corneal dystrophy

Irvine, A. D.; Coleman, C. M.; Moore, J. E.; Swensson, O.; Morgan, S. J.; McCarthy, J. H.; Smith, F. J. D.; Black, G. C. M.; McLean, W. H. I.
July 2002
British Journal of Ophthalmology;Jul2002, Vol. 86 Issue 7, p729
Academic Journal
Background: The molecular basis of Meesmann’s epithelial corneal dystrophy (MECD) has recently been attributed to mutations in the cornea specific keratin genes KRT3 and KRT12. The mechanisms by which these mutations cause the Meesmann’s phenotype are not clear. This study presents new data, examines clinical, histological, ultrastructural, and molecular aspects of MECD, and compares the features seen in this condition with those observed in other well studied keratin diseases such as epidermolysis bullosa simplex. Methods: A two generation family with typical features of Meesmann’s epithelial corneal dystrophy (MECD) was studied. All family members were examined under a slit lamp. Biopsy material from elective keratoplasty was studied by histopathological and ultrastructural analysis using standard techniques. Direct automated sequencing of genomic DNA was used for mutation detection, mutations were confirmed by restriction digest analysis. Results: The abnormal corneal epithelium was acanthotic and contained numerous dyskeratotic cells and intraepithelial vesicles. By electron microscopy abnormally aggregated and clumped keratin filament bundles were detected in basal and suprabasal keratinocytes from the centre of the cornea. Direct sequencing of the patients’ genomic DNA revealed a novel missense mutation (423T>G) in exon 1 of the cornea specific keratin 12 (KRT12) gene. This mutation predicts the amino acid change N133K within the helix initiation motif of the K12 polypeptide. Comparative studies with well established keratin disorders of other human epithelia underscore the pathogenic relevance of K3 and K12 gene mutations in Meesmann’s epithelial corneal dystrophy. The morphological data presented here illustrate the disruptive effects of keratin gene mutations on the integrity of corneal keratinocytes. Conclusions: A clinical, histopathological, and ultrastructural study of a previously unreported family with MECD is presented. In this family the disease is ascribed to a novel mutation in KRT12. A molecular mechanism is proposed for MECD based on the comparison with other well characterised keratin diseases.


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