PLoS genetics

APLP2 Regulates Refractive Error and Myopia Development in Mice and Humans.

PMID 26313004


Myopia is the most common vision disorder and the leading cause of visual impairment worldwide. However, gene variants identified to date explain less than 10% of the variance in refractive error, leaving the majority of heritability unexplained ("missing heritability"). Previously, we reported that expression of APLP2 was strongly associated with myopia in a primate model. Here, we found that low-frequency variants near the 5'-end of APLP2 were associated with refractive error in a prospective UK birth cohort (n = 3,819 children; top SNP rs188663068, p = 5.0 × 10-4) and a CREAM consortium panel (n = 45,756 adults; top SNP rs7127037, p = 6.6 × 10-3). These variants showed evidence of differential effect on childhood longitudinal refractive error trajectories depending on time spent reading (gene x time spent reading x age interaction, p = 4.0 × 10-3). Furthermore, Aplp2 knockout mice developed high degrees of hyperopia (+11.5 ± 2.2 D, p < 1.0 × 10-4) compared to both heterozygous (-0.8 ± 2.0 D, p < 1.0 × 10-4) and wild-type (+0.3 ± 2.2 D, p < 1.0 × 10-4) littermates and exhibited a dose-dependent reduction in susceptibility to environmentally induced myopia (F(2, 33) = 191.0, p < 1.0 × 10-4). This phenotype was associated with reduced contrast sensitivity (F(12, 120) = 3.6, p = 1.5 × 10-4) and changes in the electrophysiological properties of retinal amacrine cells, which expressed Aplp2. This work identifies APLP2 as one of the "missing" myopia genes, demonstrating the importance of a low-frequency gene variant in the development of human myopia. It also demonstrates an important role for APLP2 in refractive development in mice and humans, suggesting a high level of evolutionary conservation of the signaling pathways underlying refractive eye development.