Mutations in PRPF31 are responsible for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP, RP11 form) and affected families show nonpenetrance. Differential expression of the wildtype PRPF31 allele is responsible for this phenomenon: coinheritance of a mutation and a higher expressing wildtype allele provide protection against development of disease. It has been suggested that a major modulating factor lies in close proximity to the wildtype PRPF31 gene on Chromosome 19, implying that a cis-acting factor directly alters PRPF31 expression. Variable expression of CNOT3 is one determinant of PRPF31 expression. This study explored the relationship between CNOT3 (a trans-acting factor) and its paradoxical cis-acting nature in relation to RP11. Linkage analysis on Chromosome 19 was performed in mutation-carrying families, and the inheritance of the wildtype PRPF31 allele in symptomatic-asymptomatic sibships was assessed-confirming that differential inheritance of wildtype chromosome 19q13 determines the clinical phenotype (P < 2.6 × 10(-7) ). A theoretical model was constructed that explains the apparent conflict between the linkage data and the recent demonstration that a trans-acting factor (CNOT3) is a major nonpenetrance factor: we propose that this apparently cis-acting effect arises due to the intimate linkage of CNOT3 and PRPF31 on Chromosome 19q13-a novel mechanism that we have termed "linked trans-acting epistasis."
Ann Hum Genet
62 - 71