Expansion of CTG trinucleotide repeats (TNR) in the transcription factor 4 (TCF4) gene is highly associated with Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD). Due to limitations in the availability of DNA from diseased corneal endothelium, sizing of CTG repeats in FECD patients has typically been determined using DNA samples isolated from peripheral blood leukocytes. However, it is non-feasible to extract enough DNA from surgically isolated FECD corneal endothelial tissue to determine repeat length based on current technology. To circumvent this issue, total RNA was isolated from FECD corneal endothelium and sequenced using long-read sequencing. Southern blotting of DNA samples isolated from primary cultures of corneal endothelium from these same affected individuals was also assessed. Both long read sequencing and Southern blot analysis showed significantly longer CTG TNR expansion (>1000 repeats) in the corneal endothelium from FECD patients than those characterized in leukocytes from the same individuals (<90 repeats). Our findings suggest that the TCF4 CTG repeat expansions in the FECD corneal endothelium are much longer than those found in leukocytes.
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