Background The genetic profile of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in East Asian populations has not been well characterised. Therefore, we conducted a large-scale sequencing study to investigate the genes and variants causing RP in a Japanese population. Methods A total of 1209 Japanese patients diagnosed with typical RP were enrolled. We performed deep resequencing of 83 known causative genes of RP using next-generation sequencing. We defined pathogenic variants as those that were putatively deleterious or registered as pathogenic in the Human Gene Mutation Database or ClinVar database and had a minor allele frequency in any ethnic population of ≤0.5% for recessive genes or ≤0.01% for dominant genes as determined using population-based databases. Results We successfully sequenced 1204 patients with RP and determined 200 pathogenic variants in 38 genes as the cause of RP in 356 patients (29.6%). Variants in six genes (EYS, USH2A, RP1L1, RHO, RP1 and RPGR) caused RP in 65.4% (233/356) of those patients. Among autosomal recessive genes, two known founder variants in EYS [p.(Ser1653fs) and p.(Tyr2935∗)] and four East Asian-specific variants [p.(Gly2752Arg) in USH2A, p.(Arg658∗) in RP1L1, p.(Gly2186Glu) in EYS and p.(Ile535Asn) in PDE6B] and p.(Cys934Trp) in USH2A were found in ≥10 patients. Among autosomal dominant genes, four pathogenic variants [p.(Pro347Leu) in RHO, p.(Arg872fs) in RP1, p.(Arg41Trp) in CRX and p.(Gly381fs) in PRPF31] were found in ≥4 patients, while these variants were unreported or extremely rare in both East Asian and non-East Asian population-based databases. Conclusions East Asian-specific variants in causative genes were the major causes of RP in the Japanese population.
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