Congenital cataracts (CCs), responsible for about one-third of blindness in infants, are a major cause of vision loss in children worldwide. Autosomal-recessive congenital cataracts (arCC) form a clinically diverse and genetically heterogeneous group of disorders of the crystalline lens. To identify the genetic cause of arCC in consanguineous Pakistani families, we performed genome-wide linkage analysis and fine mapping and identified linkage to 3p21-p22 with a summed LOD score of 33.42. Mutations in the gene encoding FYVE and coiled-coil domain containing 1 (FYCO1), a PI(3)P-binding protein family member that is associated with the exterior of autophagosomes and mediates microtubule plus-end-directed vesicle transport, were identified in 12 Pakistani families and one Arab Israeli family in which arCC had previously been mapped to the overlapping CATC2 region. Nine different mutations were identified, including c.3755 delC (p.Ala1252AspfsX71), c.3858-3862dupGGAAT (p.Leu1288TrpfsX37), c.1045 C>T (p.Gln349X), c.2206C>T (p.Gln736X), c.2761C>T (p.Arg921X), c.2830C>T (p.Arg944X), c.3150+1 G>T, c.4127T>C (p.Leu1376Pro), and c.1546C>T (p.Gln516X). Fyco1 is expressed in the mouse embryonic and adult lens and peaks at P12d. Expressed mutant proteins p.Leu1288TrpfsX37 and p.Gln736X are truncated on immunoblots. Wild-type and p.L1376P FYCO1, the only missense mutant identified, migrate at the expected molecular mass. Both wild-type and p. Leu1376Pro FYCO1 proteins expressed in human lens epithelial cells partially colocalize to microtubules and are found adjacent to Golgi, but they primarily colocalize to autophagosomes. Thus, FYCO1 is involved in lens development and transparency in humans, and mutations in this gene are one of the most common causes of arCC in the Pakistani population.
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