BACKGROUND: Inherited retinal degeneration (IRD) associated with mutations in the Crumbs homolog 1 (CRB1) gene is associated with a severe, early-onset retinal degeneration for which no therapy currently exists. Base editing, with its capability to precisely catalyse permanent nucleobase conversion in a programmable manner, represents a novel therapeutic approach to targeting this autosomal recessive IRD, for which a gene supplementation is challenging due to the need to target three different retinal CRB1 isoforms. PURPOSE: To report and classify a novel CRB1 variant and envision a possible therapeutic approach in form of base editing. METHODS: Case report. RESULTS: A 16-year-old male patient with a clinical diagnosis of early-onset retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and characteristic clinical findings of retinal thickening and coarse lamination was seen at the Oxford Eye Hospital. He was found to be compound heterozygous for two CRB1 variants: a novel pathogenic nonsense variant in exon 9, c.2885T>A (p.Leu962Ter), and a likely pathogenic missense change in exon 6, c.2056C>T (p.Arg686Cys). While a base editing strategy for c.2885T>A would encompass a CRISPR-pass mediated "read-through" of the premature stop codon, the resulting missense changes were predicted to be "possibly damaging" in in-silico analysis. On the other hand, the transversion missense change, c.2056C>T, is amenable to transition editing with an adenine base editor (ABE) fused to a SaCas9-KKH with a negligible chance of bystander edits due to an absence of additional Adenines (As) in the editing window. CONCLUSIONS: This case report records a novel pathogenic nonsense variant in CRB1 and gives an example of thinking about a base editing strategy for a patient compound heterozygous for CRB1 variants.
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CRB1, CRISPR, base editing, genetics, inherited retinal disease