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11p13 deletions can be more frequent than the PAX6 gene point mutations in Polish patients with aniridia.


Aniridia is a rare, bilateral, congenital ocular disorder causing incomplete formation of the iris, usually characterized by iris aplasia/hypoplasia. It can also appear with other ocular anomalies, such as cataracts, glaucoma, corneal pannus, optic nerve hypoplasia, macular hypoplasia, or ectopia lentis. In the majority of cases, it is caused by mutation in the PAX6 gene, but it can also be caused by microdeletions that involve the 11p13 region. Twelve unrelated patients of Polish origin with a clinical diagnosis of aniridia were screened for the presence of microdeletions in the 11p13 region by means of multiplex ligation probe amplification (MLPA). Additionally, the coding regions of the PAX6 gene were sequenced in all probands. MLPA examination revealed different size deletions of the 11p13 region in five patients. In three cases, deletions encompassed the entire PAX6 gene and a few adjacent genes. In one case, a fragment of the PAX6 gene was deleted only. In the final case, the deletion did not include any PAX6 sequence. Our molecular findings provide further evidence of the existence of the distant 3' regulatory elements in the downstream region of the PAX6 gene, which is known from other studies to influence the level of protein expression. Sequence analysis of the PAX6 gene revealed the three different point mutations in the remaining four patients with aniridia. All the detected mutations were reported earlier. Based on accomplished results, the great diversity of the molecular basis of aniridia was found. It varies from point mutations to different size deletions in the 11p13 region which encompass partly or completely the PAX6 gene or cause a position effect.