BACKGROUND: Cornea plana (CNA) is a hereditary congenital abnormality of the cornea characterized by reduced corneal curvature, extreme hypermetropia, corneal clouding and hazy corneal limbus. The recessive form, CNA2, is associated with homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations of the keratocan gene (KERA) on chromosome 12q22. To date, only nine different disease-associated KERA mutations, including four missense mutations, have been described.
CASE PRESENTATION: In this report, we present clinical data from a Turkish family with autosomal recessive cornea plana. In some of the affected individuals, hypotrichosis was found. KERA was screened for mutations using Sanger sequencing. We detected a novel KERA variant, p.(Ile225Thr), that segregates with the disease in the homozygous form. The three-dimensional structure of keratocan protein was modelled, and we showed that this missense variation is predicted to destabilize the structure of keratocan, leading to the classical ocular phenotype in the affected individuals. All the four known missense mutations, including the variation found in this family, affect the conserved residues of the leucine rich repeat domain of keratocan. These mutations are predicted to result in destabilization of the protein.
CONCLUSION: We present the 10th pathogenic KERA mutation identified so far. Protein modelling is a useful tool in predicting the effect of missense mutations. This case underline the importance of the leucin rich repeat domain for the protein function, and this knowledge will ease the interpretation of future findings of mutations in these areas in other families with cornea plana.