Synonymous Myocilin mutations break their silence in a Zambian population attending selected referral eye health facilities


  • Kangwa I. M. Muma Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Robin Bailey London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  • Jessie I. M. Nyalazi University Teaching Hospitals – EyeHospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • George Zulu University Teaching Hospitals – EyeHospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Tyness S. Mumba Malisawa University Teaching Hospitals – EyeHospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Lillian M. L. Chinama Musonda Eye Department, Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Kachikonyo Sibande Muma University Teaching Hospitals – EyeHospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Edgar Simulundu Department of Disease Control, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Patrick Kaonga Tropical Gastroenterology and Nutrition Group (TROPGAN), Internal Medicine Department, University Teaching Hospitals – Adult Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia



Myocilin (MYOC), Mutation, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, Synonymous


Objective: Primary open-angle glaucoma in Zambia has an earlier age of onset and appears to be more clinically severe. Myocilin mutations are associated with primary open angle glaucoma in multiple populations. Therefore, we investigated the role of myocilin gene mutations in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in a Zambian population.

Methods: The unrelated primary open-angle glaucoma patients and unaffected controls recruited were from the University Teaching Hospitals Eye Hospital, Kitwe Teaching Eye Hospital and Lusaka Adventist Eye Hospital. A complete eye examination, including visual field assessment, was performed in all cases and controls.Genomic DNA was extracted from whole peripheral blood, then subjected to polymerase chain reaction to amplify exons, flanking introns and promoter regions of the myocilingene. The amplified products were screened for base mutations by auto sequence based on the Sanger method. The analyses of findings included odds ratios, chi-square, bivariate, multivariate and conditional logistic regression with 95% confidence interval and at a 5% level of significance.There was also a comparison between the identified mutations and the previously reported myocilinmutations.

Results: Unrelated 165 Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma patients and unaffected 173 controls enrolled for the study. The analysis revealed 4 variants of MYOC mutations in 49 participants of the 338. The mutations included one synonymous (silent) mutation (Thr474Thr; 45/338) and three missense mutations (Ala446Thr; 16/338), (Leu158Arg; 4/338) and (Arg342Lys; 1/338). The study observed two previously reported mutations, Ala446Thr and Arg342Lys, as glaucoma causing mutations. The missense mutation, Ala446Thr, was found in 16 participants who also had silent mutations broken down as eight cases and eight controls. One control had two variants, Ala446Thr and Arg342Lys. Twenty (20) controls and 25 cases had the synonymous or silent (neutral) mutation, (Thr474Thr). The occurrence of Thr474Thr and Ala446Thr in the same cases and controls was compelling evidence to think that the synonymous mutations were not as silent as previously reported. The Thr474Thr and Ala446Thr mutations exhibited identical primary open-angle glaucomaphenotypic features in both cases and controls. In the remaining 17 cases and 12 controls the phenotype were still the same. The clinical profile in Thr474Thr mutation was statistically significant for female gender, younger age group (<40 years), older age group (≥ 65 years), positive family history, poor visual acuity, severe visual field changes, diffuse retinal nerve fibre layer defects, peripapillary atrophy surrounding the optic nerve head and high cup disc ratio between 0.8 and 1.0 

Conclusions: The silent myocilin mutations, Thr474Thr, break their silence in a Zambian population. The silent mutation Thr474Thr found was associated with primary open-angle glaucoma phenotype and appeared to be a glaucoma-causing.


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Original Article

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Synonymous Myocilin mutations break their silence in a Zambian population attending selected referral eye health facilities. (2023). Medical Journal of Zambia, 49(3), 236-247.

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