A guinea-pig hereditary cataract contains a splice-site deletion in a crystallin gene

Ignacio R. Rodriguez, Pedro Gonzales, J. Samuel Zigler, Teresa Borrás

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


A congenital cataract present in guinea pigs provided a unique opportunity to study a hereditary lens diseases at the molecular level. ζ-crystallin, one of the most abundant guinea pig lens proteins, was found to be altered in the lens of cataractous animals. Several ζ-crystallin cDNA clones were isolated from a cataractous lens library and found to contain a 102-bp deletion towards the 3′ end of the coding region. The deletion does not interfere with the reading frame but results in a protein 34 amino acids shorter. Sequence analysis of a normal genomic ζ-crystallin clone revealed that the missing 102-bp fragment corresponds to an entire exon (exon 7). PCR analysis of the genomic DNA isolated from cataractous animals showed that exon 7, though missing from the mRNA, is intact in the cataractous genome. Further sequence analysis of the α-crystallin gene disclosed a dinucleotide delection of the universal AG at the acceptor splice-site of intron 6 of the mutant gene. The presence of this mutation results in the skipping of exon 7 during the mRNA processing which in turn results in the altered ζ-crystallin protein. This if the first time a genomic mutation in an enzyme/crytallin gene has been directly linked to a congenital cataract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
JournalBBA - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 13 1992


  • Congenital cataract
  • RNA splicing
  • cDNA cloning
  • ζ-crystallin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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