The study demonstrates the functional candidate gene analysis in a cataract family of German descent. METHODS: We screened a German family, clinically documented to have congenital cataracts, for mutation in the candidate genes CRYG (A to D) and CRYBB2 through polymerase chain reaction analyses and sequencing. RESULTS: Congenital cataract was first observed in a daughter of healthy parents. Her two children (a boy and a girl) also suffer from congenital cataracts and have been operated within the first weeks of birth. Morphologically, the cataract is characterized as nuclear with an additional ring-shaped cortical opacity. Molecular analysis revealed no causative mutation in any of the CRYG genes. However, sequencing of the exons of the CRYBB2 gene identified a sequence variation in exon 5 (383 A>T) with a substitution of Asp to Val at position 128. All three affected family members revealed this change but it was not observed in any of the unaffected persons of the family. The putative mutation creates a restriction site for the enzyme TaiI. This mutation was checked for in controls of randomly selected DNA samples from ophthalmologically normal individuals from the population-based KORA S4 study (n=96) and no mutation was observed. Moreover, the Asp at position 128 is within a stretch of 12 amino acids, which are highly conserved throughout the animal kingdom. For the mutant protein, the isoelectric point is raised from pH 6.50 to 6.75. Additionally, the random coil structure of the protein between the amino acids 126-139 is interrupted by a short extended strand structure. In addition, this region becomes hydrophobic (from neutral to +1) and the electrostatic potential in the region surrounding the exchanged amino acid alters from a mainly negative potential to an enlarged positive potential. CONCLUSIONS: The D128V mutation segregates only in affected family members and is not seen in representative controls. It represents the first mutation outside exon 6 of the human CRYBB2 gene.