We studied rod and cone function in 20 patients from six families with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa, who represented five different point mutations in the gene encoding rhodopsin. In a family with a stop codon mutation at the carboxyl end of the molecule (glutamine-344), young members with the mutation were asymptomatic and clinically unaffected but showed about 1 log unit of rod sensitivity loss across the visual field and decreased rhodopsin levels; at this stage, cone function was essentially normal. In three families with mutations at the border of a transmembrane segment (arginine-135-leucine and arginine-135-tryptophan), there was neither detectable rod function nor measurable rhodopsin; cone function was variably impaired. Two families carrying different mutations (threonine-17-methionine and threonine-58-arginine) had altitudinal visual field defects with less impaired rod and cone function in the inferior than in the superior field. Rod adaptation was abnormal in both families, but the time course of adaptation differed between patients with the two mutations. Differences in the pattern of retinal dysfunction were therefore discernible in patients with different rhodopsin mutations.
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