Scientists unravel the cause of rare genetic disease: Goldman-Favre Syndrome explained

August 31, 2011

A new research report published in The FASEB Journal will help ophthalmologists and scientists better understand a rare genetic disease that causes increased susceptibility to blue light, night blindness, and decreased vision called Enhanced S-Cone Syndrome or Goldman-Favre Syndrome. In the report, scientists found that the expression of genes responsible for the healthy renewal of rods and cones in the retina was reduced and that this problem originates in the photoreceptors themselves rather than in the adjacent retinal pigment epithelial layer as once thought.

"This research could help identify therapeutic agents that would prevent, ameliorate or possibly cure these blinding diseases related to defective renewal of ," said Krzysztof Palczewski, Ph.D., a senior scientist involved in the research and an editorial board member of The FASEB Journal from the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. "It is possible that during aging, this process is slowed and such intervention could be important for determining diseases such as age-related macular degeneration."

To make this discovery, researchers studied both human ESCS patients and an ESCS mouse model. They found that phagocytosis, a process that allows for the normal and continual renewal of rods and cones in the retina, was defective. Using RNA-sequencing to identify differences in complete transcriptomes, and cell culture techniques, scientists demonstrated that the phagocytotic defect was due to the ESCS photoreceptors themselves, rather than the adjacent epithelium layer that also is involved in photoreceptor phagocytosis.

"Learning what goes wrong in like Enhanced S-Cone Syndrome allows us to understand how vision works at the molecular level," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The . "This study provides valuable insight into how the eye renews its . Knowing that photoreceptor cells affect their own renewal will surely have an impact on other, more common, forms of retinal degeneration."

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health Office of Rare Diseases, Enhanced S-Cone Syndrome is an inherited eye disease that affects the retina. Within the retina are "red," "blue," and "green" cones allowing people to see colors properly; and rods which allows us to see in dim light. People with Enhanced S-Cone Syndrome are born with an overabundance of blue cones, reduced numbers of red and green cones, and few, if any, functional rods. This leads to an increased sensitivity to blue light, varying degrees of red and green cone vision, night blindness occurring from early life, vision loss, and retinal degeneration.

More information: Debarshi Mustafi, Brian M. Kevany, Christel Genoud, Kiichiro Okano, Artur V. Cideciyan, Alexander Sumaroka, Alejandro J. Roman, Samuel G. Jacobson, Andreas Engel, Mark D. Adams, and Krzysztof Palczewski. Defective photoreceptor phagocytosis in a mouse model of enhanced S-cone syndrome causes progressive retinal degeneration. FASEB J September 2011 25:3157-3176, doi:10.1096/fj.11-186767

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Brain cells found to control aging

July 26, 2017
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The finding, made in mice, could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related ...

Post-stroke patients reach terra firma with new exosuit technology

July 26, 2017
Upright walking on two legs is a defining trait in humans, enabling them to move very efficiently throughout their environment. This can all change in the blink of an eye when a stroke occurs. In about 80% of patients post-stroke, ...

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.