Project: Research project


The goal of this project is to isolate and characterize the gene for a form of syndromic retinitis pigmentosa (RP), called Hallervorden-Spatz syndrome (HSS) and characterized by abnormal electroretinogram, lipofuscin accumulation in the retinal pigment epithelium, and early, rapidly progressive pigmentary retinopathy. This autosomal recessive disorder of childhood includes extrapyramidal dysfunction with iron accumulation in the basal ganglia. Though lipid peroxidation is an hypothesized mechanism leading to the HSS phenotype, no knowledge exists of the molecular or biochemical defect. We propose a molecular genetic approach to understanding this syndromic form of RP. Our specific aims are to 1) identify the gene for HSS, designated NBIA1 (Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation, type 1) by completing the physical map of the critical region, identifying and screening candidate genes, and demonstrating deleterious mutations; 2) develop the molecular diagnosis of HSS using mutation studies and genotype-phenotype correlation; 3) characterize the HSS gene and its protein product at the tissue, cellular, subcellular and molecular levels using homology to model organisms, sequence analysis, histopathology, immunohistochemistry and studies of tissue expression patterns; and 4) isolate the murine homolog of the HSS gene and develop a mouse model for HSS in order to study its pathophysiology. Knowledge about the HSS gene will allow molecular diagnosis in individuals suspected to have this disease. As well, prenatal diagnosis of this fatal condition will be feasible. By delineating the pathophysiologic process in HSS, we may begin to develop rational therapies, which may be of benefit in treating other forms of RP, as well. Rare diseases often illuminate the mechanisms at work in common, related disorders. An advantage to studying syndromic RP is that the pleiotropic manifestations provide a context to help delineate the mechanism of retinopathy. The HSS gene is not retina-specific, and a defect in it must account for rod photoreceptor degeneration as well as regional brain iron accumulation. Furthermore, since defects in this non-retina- specific process may cause other forms of syndromic and isolated RP and may be integral in disorders of lipofuscin accumulation, including aging macular degeneration, identification of the HSS gene may lead to greater understanding of RP as well as the macular dystrophies associated with senescence.
Effective start/end date1/1/9912/31/08


  • National Institutes of Health: $456,266.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $522,337.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $266,768.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $492,304.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $389,623.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $242,278.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $382,632.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $378,213.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $492,945.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $36,188.00


Retinitis Pigmentosa
Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration
Macular Degeneration
Coenzyme A
Retinal Pigment Epithelium
Enzymes and Coenzymes
Basal Ganglia Diseases
Basal Ganglia
Retinal Degeneration
Molecular Pathology
Metabolic Networks and Pathways
Routine Diagnostic Tests
Parkinson Disease


  • Medicine(all)