The ATP-binding cassette subfamily 4 (ABCA4), a transporter, is localized within the photoreceptors of the retina, and its genetic variants cause retinal dystrophy. Despite the clinical importance of the ABCA4 transporter, a few studies have investigated the function of each variant. In this study, we functionally characterized ABCA4 variants found in Korean patients with Stargardt disease or variants of the ABCA4 promoter region. We observed that four missense variants—p.Arg290Gln, p.Thr1117Ala, p.Cys1140Trp, and p.Asn1588Tyr—significantly decreased ABCA4 expression on the plasma membrane, which could be due to intracellular degradation. There are four major haplotypes in the ABCA4 proximal promoter. We observed that the H1 haplotype (c.-761C>A) indicated significantly increased luciferase activity compared to that of the wild-type, whereas the H3 haplotype (c.-1086A>C) indicated significantly decreased luciferase activity (P < 0.01 and 0.001, respectively). In addition, c.-900A>T in the H2 haplotype exhibited significantly increased luciferase activity compared with that of the wild-type. Two transcription factors, GATA-2 and HLF, were found to function as enhancers of ABCA4 transcription. Our findings suggest that ABCA4 variants in patients with Stargardt disease affect ABCA4 expression. Furthermore, common variants of the ABCA4 proximal promoter alter the ABCA4 transcriptional activity, which is regulated by GATA-2 and HLF transcription factors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grants funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (2020R1A5A2019210 and 2015R1D1A1A01056652).
© 2022, The Author(s).