Longitudinal characterisation of function and structure of Bietti crystalline dystrophy: report on a novel homozygous mutation in CYP4V2

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Bietti crystalline dystrophy (BCD) is a rare inherited disorder characterised by fine crystalline deposits in the corneal limbus and retinal posterior pole. In 2004, mutations in the CYP4V2 gene were identified as the cause of BCD. Here, we describe the report of a homozygous point mutation in a patient with BCD and provide detailed characterisation of functional and structural changes over 20 years.


At regular intervals, the patient underwent repeat ophthalmic evaluations. DNA was extracted from buccal swabs, amplified by standard PCR and analysed for homology to the CYP4V2 sequence. Homology modelling was conducted using Iterative Threading ASSEmbly Refinement and molecular dynamics simulations using GROningen MAchine for Chemical Simulations.


The proband, a 47-year-old woman of German ancestry was diagnosed with crystalline retinopathy at age 25. Over the next 20 years, visual acuity and function gradually declined with progression of retinal pigment epithelium and choroidal atrophy. When first tested at 39 years of age, the multifocal electroretinogram (ERG) was markedly abnormal, more so for the right eye, whereas the full-field ERG was more symmetrical and lagged other measures of visual function. Gene sequencing showed a single C>T point mutation in exon 9 encoding a R400C amino acid change. Computational modelling suggests the mutation impairs function due to loss of a hydrogen bonding interaction with the propionate side chains of the haeme prosthetic group.


This is the first report of a homozygous R400C mutation in CYP4V2 with protein modelling showing high likelihood of enzyme dysfunction. The comprehensive long-term clinical follow-up provides insight into disease progression and highlights possible anti-inflammatory modulation of disease severity.

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