Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a devastating autosomal recessive disorder due to mutations in TYMP, which cause loss of function of thymidine phosphorylase (TP), nucleoside accumulation in plasma and tissues and mitochondrial dysfunction. The clinical picture includes progressive gastrointestinal dysmotility, cachexia, ptosis and ophthalmoparesis, peripheral neuropathy and diffuse leukoencephalopathy, which usually lead to death in early adulthood. Therapeutic options are currently available in clinical practice (allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and carrier erythrocyte entrapped TP therapy) and newer, promising therapies are expected in the near future. However, successful treatment is strictly related to early diagnosis. We report on an incomplete MNGIE phenotype in a young man harboring the novel heterozygote c.199 C>T (Q67X) mutation in exon 2, and the previously reported c.866 A>C (E289A) mutation in exon 7 in TYMP. The correct diagnosis was achieved many years after the onset of symptoms and unfortunately, the patient died soon after diagnosis because of multiorgan failure due to severe malnutrition and cachexia before any therapeutic option could be tried. To date, early diagnosis is essential to ensure that patients have the opportunity to be treated. MNGIE should be suspected in all patients who present with both gastrointestinal and nervous system involvement, even if the classical complete phenotype is lacking.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy; Thymidine phosphorylase; TYMP
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of thymidine phosphorylase (TP, EC220.127.116.11) due to mutations in the nuclear gene TYMP. TP deficiency leads to plasma and tissue accumulations of thymidine and deoxyuridine which generate imbalances within the mitochondrial nucleotide pools, ultimately leading to mitochondrial dysfunction.1 MNGIE is characterized clinically by leukoencephalopathy, external ophthalmoplegia, peripheral polyneuropathy, cachexia, and enteric neuromyopathy manifesting as gastrointestinal dysmotility. The condition is relentlessly progressive, with patients usually dying from a combination of nutritional and neuromuscular failure at an average age of 37 years.2 Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) offers a permanent cure. Clinical and biochemical improvements following AHSCT have been reported but it carries a high mortality risk and is limited by matched donor availability.3 A consensus proposal for standardizing AHSCT recommends treatment of patients without irreversible end-stage disease and with an optimally matched donor; a majority of patients are ineligible and thus there is a critical requirement for an alternative treatment.4
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a rare autosomal recessive mitochondrial disease associated with mutations in the nuclear TYMP gene. As a result, the thymidine phosphorylase (TP) enzyme activity is markedly reduced leading to toxic accumulation of thymidine and therefore altered mitochondrial DNA. MNGIE is characterized by severe gastrointestinal dysmotility, neurological impairment, reduced life expectancy and poor quality of life. There are limited therapeutic options for MNGIE. In the attempt to restore TP activity, allogenic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation has been used as cellular source of TP. The results of this approach on ∼20 MNGIE patients showed gastrointestinal and neurological improvement, although the 5-year mortality rate is about 70%. In this study we tested whether the liver may serve as an alternative source of TP. We investigated 11 patients (7M; 35–55 years) who underwent hepatic resection for focal disorders. Margins of normal liver tissue were processed to identify, quantify and localize the TP protein by Western Blot, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry, and to evaluate TYMP mRNA expression by qPCR. Western Blot identified TP in liver with a TP/GAPDH ratio of 0.9±0.5. ELISA estimated TP content as 0.5±0.07 ng/μg of total protein. TP was identified in both nuclei and cytoplasm of hepatocytes and sinusoidal lining cells. Finally, TYMP mRNA was expressed in the liver. Overall, our study demonstrates that the liver is an important source of TP. Orthotopic liver transplantation may be considered as a therapeutic alternative for MNGIE patients.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a severe human disease caused by mutations in TYMP, the gene encoding thymidine phosphorylase (TP). It belongs to a broader group of disorders characterized by a pronounced reduction in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number in one or more tissues. In most cases, these disorders are caused by mutations in genes involved in deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) metabolism. It is generally accepted that imbalances in mitochondrial dNTP pools resulting from these mutations interfere with mtDNA replication. Nonetheless, the precise mechanistic details of this effect, in particular, how an excess of a given dNTP (e.g., imbalanced dTTP excess observed in TP deficiency) might lead to mtDNA depletion, remain largely unclear. Using an in organello replication experimental model with isolated murine liver mitochondria, we observed that overloads of dATP, dGTP, or dCTP did not reduce the mtDNA replication rate. In contrast, an excess of dTTP decreased mtDNA synthesis, but this effect was due to secondary dCTP depletion rather than to the dTTP excess in itself. This was confirmed in human cultured cells, demonstrating that our conclusions do not depend on the experimental model. Our results demonstrate that the mtDNA replication rate is unaffected by an excess of any of the 4 separate dNTPs and is limited by the availability of the dNTP present at the lowest concentration. Therefore, the availability of dNTP is the key factor that leads to mtDNA depletion rather than dNTP imbalances. These results provide the first test of the mechanism that accounts for mtDNA depletion in MNGIE and provide evidence that limited dNTP availability is the common cause of mtDNA depletion due to impaired anabolic or catabolic dNTP pathways. Thus, therapy approaches focusing on restoring the deficient substrates should be explored.
Mitochondria are subcellular organelles that constitute the main energy supply within the cell. They contain their own DNA, which should be continuously replicated to ensure the correct mitochondrial function. Several mitochondrial diseases are caused by genetic defects that compromise this replication and result in mitochondrial DNA depletion. In most cases, these genetic defects block the synthesis of dATP, dGTP, dCTP, and dTTP, the 4 nucleotides needed for mitochondrial DNA replication. However, for one of these disorders (mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, MNGIE), the biochemical pathways needed to synthesize them are intact, but degradation of dTTP is genetically blocked, leading to dTTP accumulation. We investigated the biochemical mechanisms through which the dTTP excess leads to mitochondrial DNA depletion in MNGIE, and we found that the delay of mitochondrial DNA replication rate observed when dTTP is in excess is not caused by this excess in itself. Instead, the dTTP overload produces a secondary dCTP depletion that actually delays mitochondrial DNA replication. Therefore, the common factor accounting for mitochondrial DNA depletion in these disorders is the limited availability of one or more nucleotides. This indicates that strategies to provide nucleotides to patients' mitochondria should be explored as a possible treatment for these fatal disorders.
Although causative mutations have been identified for numerous mitochondrial disorders, few disease-modifying treatments are available. Two examples of treatable mitochondrial disorders are coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone) deficiency and mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE).
Scope of Review
Here, we describe clinical and molecular features of CoQ10 deficiencies and MNGIE and explain how understanding their pathomechanisms have led to rationale therapies. Primary CoQ10 deficiencies, due to mutations in genes required for ubiquinone biosynthesis, and secondary deficiencies, caused by genetic defects not directly related to CoQ10 biosynthesis, often improve with CoQ10 supplementation. In vitro and in vivo studies of CoQ10 deficiencies have revealed biochemical alterations that may account for phenotypic differences among patients and variable responses to therapy. In contrast to the heterogeneous CoQ10 deficiencies, MNGIE is a single autosomal recessive disease due to mutations in the TYMP gene encoding thymidine phosphorylase (TP). In MNGIE, loss of TP activity causes toxic accumulations of the nucleosides thymidine and deoxyuridine that are incorporated by the mitochondrial pyrimidine salvage pathway and cause deoxynucleoside triphosphate pool imbalances, which, in turn cause mtDNA instability. Allogeneic hematopoetic stem cell transplantation to restore TP activity and eliminate toxic metabolites is a promising therapy for MNGIE.
CoQ10 deficiencies and MNGIE demonstrate the feasibility of treating specific mitochondrial disorders through replacement of deficient metabolites or via elimination of excessive toxic molecules.
Studies of CoQ10 deficiencies and MNGIE illustrate how understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of mitochondrial diseases can lead to meaningful therapies.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) syndromes is a rarely seen multisystem disorder with autosomal recessive inheritance due to thymidine phosphorylase gene mutation. It is characterized by progressive external ophthalmoplegia and/or pitosis, progressive gastrointestinal dismotility and abdominal pain, postprandial emesis, cachexia, demyelinating peripheral neuropathy, symmetrical and distal weakness especially in lower extremities and diffuse leucoencephalopathy in cranial magnetic resonance. Endocarditis is the infectious and inflammatory disease of the endothelial surface of the heart. MNGIE syndrome is a condition in which immune system is suppressed and infection risk increased. Herein we summarized a previously not reported endocarditis case in a patient with MNGIE syndrome who was under follow up for three years. In MNGIE syndrome of acute dyspnea, infective endocarditis should be kept in mind and prompt evaluation for surgical treatment should be done.
Endocarditis; MNGIE syndrome; Mitral valve
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive disease caused by thymidine phosphorylase mutations. Garcia-Diaz et al. describe a mouse model of MNGIE, in which the clinical phenotype, leukoencephalopathy, and biochemical defects are exacerbated by thymidine and deoxyuridine administration.
Balanced pools of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate precursors are required for DNA replication, and alterations of this balance are relevant to human mitochondrial diseases including mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy. In this disease, autosomal recessive TYMP mutations cause severe reductions of thymidine phosphorylase activity; marked elevations of the pyrimidine nucleosides thymidine and deoxyuridine in plasma and tissues, and somatic multiple deletions, depletion and site-specific point mutations of mitochondrial DNA. Thymidine phosphorylase and uridine phosphorylase double knockout mice recapitulated several features of these patients including thymidine phosphorylase activity deficiency, elevated thymidine and deoxyuridine in tissues, mitochondrial DNA depletion, respiratory chain defects and white matter changes. However, in contrast to patients with this disease, mutant mice showed mitochondrial alterations only in the brain. To test the hypothesis that elevated levels of nucleotides cause unbalanced deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate pools and, in turn, pathogenic mitochondrial DNA instability, we have stressed double knockout mice with exogenous thymidine and deoxyuridine, and assessed clinical, neuroradiological, histological, molecular, and biochemical consequences. Mutant mice treated with exogenous thymidine and deoxyuridine showed reduced survival, body weight, and muscle strength, relative to untreated animals. Moreover, in treated mutants, leukoencephalopathy, a hallmark of the disease, was enhanced and the small intestine showed a reduction of smooth muscle cells and increased fibrosis. Levels of mitochondrial DNA were depleted not only in the brain but also in the small intestine, and deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate imbalance was observed in the brain. The relative proportion, rather than the absolute amount of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate, was critical for mitochondrial DNA maintenance. Thus, our results demonstrate that stress of exogenous pyrimidine nucleosides enhances the mitochondrial phenotype of our knockout mice. Our mouse studies provide insights into the pathogenic role of thymidine and deoxyuridine imbalance in mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy and an excellent model to study new therapeutic approaches.
MNGIE; animal model; thymidine; deoxyuridine; deoxynucleotide; mitochondrial DNA
Deficiency of the cytosolic enzyme thymidine phosphorylase (TP) causes a multisystem disorder called mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) syndrome. Clinical symptoms are gastrointestinal dysfunction, muscle involvement and neurological deterioration. TP deficiency is biochemically characterised by accumulation of thymidine and deoxyuridine in body fluids and compromised mitochondrial deoxyribose nucleic acid (mtDNA) integrity (depletion and multiple deletions). In this report we describe a patient with the clinical and biochemical features related to the end stage of the disease. Home parenteral nutrition had started to improve the clinical condition and preparations were initiated for stem cell transplantation (SCT) as a last resort treatment. Unfortunately, the patient died during the induction phase of SCT. This report shows that TP deficiency is a severe clinical condition with a broad spectrum of affected tissues. TP deficiency can be easily determined by the measurement of pyrimidine metabolites in body fluids and TP activity in peripheral blood leucocytes. Early detection and treatment may prevent the progress of the clinical symptoms and, therefore, should be considered for inclusion in newborn screening programmes.
Mitochondrial disorders are a group of highly invalidating human conditions for which effective treatment is currently unavailable and characterized by faulty energy supply due to defective oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Given the complexity of mitochondrial genetics and biochemistry, mitochondrial inherited diseases may present with a vast range of symptoms, organ involvement, severity, age of onset, and outcome. Despite the wide spectrum of clinical signs and biochemical underpinnings of this group of dis-orders, some common traits can be identified, based on both pathogenic mechanisms and potential therapeutic approaches. Here, we will review two peculiar mitochondrial disorders, ethylmalonic encephalopathy (EE) and mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE), caused by mutations in the ETHE1 and TYMP nuclear genes, respectively. ETHE1 encodes for a mitochondrial enzyme involved in sulfide detoxification and TYMP for a cytosolic enzyme involved in the thymidine/deoxyuridine catabolic pathway. We will discuss these two clinical entities as a paradigm of mitochondrial diseases caused by the accumulation of compounds normally present in traces, which exerts a toxic and inhibitory effect on the OXPHOS system.
mitochondrial diseases; OXPHOS; sulfide catabolism; therapeutic approaches; thymidine/deoxyuridine catabolism
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive disorder associated with deficiency of thymidine phosphorylase (TP). Associated manifestations include visual and hearing impairments, peripheral neuropathies, leukoencephalopathy, and malnutrition from concomitant gastrointestinal dysmotility and pseudoobstruction. Given the altered metabolic state in these patients, specific consideration of medication selection is advised. This case report will describe the anesthetic management used in a 10-year-old girl with MNGIE. She had multiple anesthetics while undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. This case report will discuss the successful repeated use of the same anesthetic in this pediatric patient, with the avoidance of volatile anesthetic agents, propofol, and muscle relaxant.
Leukoencephalopathy is a hallmark of mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) a devastating disorder characterized by ptosis, ophthalmoparesis, gastrointestinal dysfunction and polyneuropathy. To characterize MNGIE-associated leukoencephalopathy and to correlate it with clinical, biochemical and molecular data, four MNGIE patients with heterogeneous clinical phenotypes (enteropathic arthritis, exercise intolerance, CIDP-like phenotype and typical presentation) were studied by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) with apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps were also obtained. In two patients we also investigated the role of brain MRI in monitoring the evolution of leukoencephalopathy by performing follow-up imaging studies at an interval of one and two years. The extension and distribution of leukoencephalopathy were not clearly linked with age, phenotype or disease severity, and did not seem to be related to TYMP mutations, enzyme activity or pyrimidine levels. In the studied patients MRS revealed reduced N-acetyl-aspartate and increased choline signals. Although DWI appeared normal in all patients but one, ADC maps always showed moderate increased diffusivity. Leukoencephalopathy worsened over a two-year period in two patients, regardless of the clinical course, indicating a lack of correlation between clinical phenotype, size and progression of white matter abnormalities during this period. Brain MRI should be considered a very useful tool to diagnose both classical and atypical MNGIE. Serial MRIs in untreated and treated MNGIE patients will help to establish whether the leukoencephalopathy is a reversible condition or not.
mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy; MNGIE; MRI; MRS; DWI
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndromes (MDS) are a genetically and clinically heterogeneous group of autosomal recessive disorders that are characterized by a severe reduction in mtDNA content leading to impaired energy production in affected tissues and organs. MDS are due to defects in mtDNA maintenance caused by mutations in nuclear genes that function in either mitochondrial nucleotide synthesis (TK2, SUCLA2, SUCLG1, RRM2B, DGUOK, and TYMP) or mtDNA replication (POLG and C10orf2). MDS are phenotypically heterogeneous and usually classified as myopathic, encephalomyopathic, hepatocerebral or neurogastrointestinal. Myopathic MDS, caused by mutations in TK2, usually present before the age of 2 years with hypotonia and muscle weakness. Encephalomyopathic MDS, caused by mutations in SUCLA2, SUCLG1, or RRM2B, typically present during infancy with hypotonia and pronounced neurological features. Hepatocerebral MDS, caused by mutations in DGUOK, MPV17, POLG, or C10orf2, commonly have an early-onset liver dysfunction and neurological involvement. Finally, TYMP mutations have been associated with mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) disease that typically presents before the age of 20 years with progressive gastrointestinal dysmotility and peripheral neuropathy. Overall, MDS are severe disorders with poor prognosis in the majority of affected individuals. No efficacious therapy is available for any of these disorders. Affected individuals should have a comprehensive evaluation to assess the degree of involvement of different systems. Treatment is directed mainly toward providing symptomatic management. Nutritional modulation and cofactor supplementation may be beneficial. Liver transplantation remains controversial. Finally, stem cell transplantation in MNGIE disease shows promising results.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13311-013-0177-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Mitochondrial myopathy; Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy; Hepatocerebral syndrome; Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal (MNGIE) disease; Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome
Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction (CIPO) is a syndrome characterized by recurrent clinical episodes of intestinal obstruction in the absence of any mechanical cause occluding the gut. There are multiple causes related to this rare syndrome. Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is one of the causes related to primary CIPO. MNGIE is caused by mutations in the gene encoding thymidine phosphorylase. These mutations lead to an accumulation of thymidine and deoxyuridine in blood and tissues of these patients. Toxic levels of these nucleosides induce mitochondrial DNA abnormalities leading to an abnormal intestinal motility.
Herein, we described two rare cases of MNGIE syndrome associated with CIPO, which needed surgical treatment for gastrointestinal complications. In one patient, intra-abdominal hypertension and compartment syndrome generated as a result of the colonic distension forced to perform emergency surgery. In the other patient, a perforated duodenal diverticulum was the cause that forced to perform surgery. There is not a definitive treatment for MNGIE syndrome and survival does not exceed 40 years of age. Surgery only should be considered in some selected patients.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive mitochondriopathy caused by loss-of-function mutations in the thymidine phosphorylase gene. The disease leads to premature death and is characterized by gastrointestinal dysmotility and cachexia, external ophthalmoplegia, a sensorimotor neuropathy, and leukoencephalopathy. Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is the only potentially curative treatment that can achieve a sustained biochemical correction of the metabolic imbalances.
We report a 23-year-old male homozygous for the c.866A > C, p.Glu289Ala mutation of the TYMP gene, who presented with fatty liver and cachexia. Laboratory examinations were unremarkable except for increased transaminase activities. Grade II fibrosis and steatosis was found in an initial and a follow-up liver biopsy 4 years later. Myeloablative conditioning and BMT was performed 10 years after initial presentation due to the progressive weight loss and polyneuropathy. Pre-transplant liver staging was normal except for an elevated transient elastography of 31.6 kPa. Severe ascites developed after transplantation and liver function deteriorated progressively to liver failure. Despite engraftment on day +15, the patient died on day +18 from liver failure. Autopsy revealed micronodular liver cirrhosis, and postmortem diagnosis of acute-on-chronic liver failure was done.
This case illustrates the difficulties and importance of diagnosing liver cirrhosis in MNGIE. Before BMT, patients must be carefully evaluated by transient elastography, liver biopsy, or assessment of hepatic venous pressure gradient. In patients with liver cirrhosis, further studies should evaluate if liver transplantation may be an alternative to BMT. Considerable amounts of thymidine phosphorylase are expressed in liver tissue which may prevent accumulation of toxic metabolites.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) is characterized by significant gastrointestinal dysmotility. Early and long-term nutritional therapy is highly recommended. We report a case of MNGIE in a patient who was undergoing long-term nutrition therapy. The patient was diagnosed with a serious symptom of fatty liver and hyperlipidemia complications, along with homozygous mutation of the thymidine phosphorylase (TYMP) gene (c.217G > A). To our knowledge, this is the first report of such a case. Herein, we describe preventive measures for the aforementioned complications and mitochondrial disease-specific nutritional therapy.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome; TYMP gene; Nutrition therapy; Complications
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a multisystemic autosomal recessive disease due to primary thymidine phosphorylase (TP) deficiency. To restore TP activity, we performed reduced intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantations (alloSCTs) in two patients. In the first, alloSCT failed to engraft, but the second achieved mixed donor chimerism, which partially restored buffy coat TP activity and lowered plasma nucleosides. Thus, alloSCT can correct biochemical abnormalities in the blood of patients with MNGIE, but clinical efficacy remains unproven.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder associated with thymidine phosphorylase deficiency resulting in high levels of plasma thymidine and a characteristic clinical phenotype.
To investigate the molecular basis of MNGIE in a patient with a normal plasma thymidine level.
Clinical, neurophysiological, and histopathological examinations as well as molecular and genetic analyses.
Nerve and muscle center and genetic clinic.
A 42-year-old woman with clinical findings strongly suggestive for MNGIE.
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical description of the disease and its novel genetic cause.
Identification of mitochondrial DNA depletion in muscle samples (approximately 12% of the control mean content) prompted us to look for other causes of our patient’s condition. Sequencing of genes associated with mitochondrial DNA depletion—POLG, PEO1, ANT1, SUCLG1, and SUCLA2—did not reveal deleterious mutations. Results of sequencing and array comparative genomic hybridization of the mitochondrial DNA for point mutations and deletions in blood and muscle were negative. Sequencing of RRM2B, a gene encoding cytosolic p53-inducible ribonucleoside reductase small subunit (RIR2B), revealed 2 pathogenic mutations, c.329G>A (p.R110H) and c.362G>A (p.R121H). These mutations are predicted to affect the docking interface of the RIR2B homodimer and likely result in impaired enzyme activity.
This study expands the clinical spectrum of impaired RIR2B function, challenges the notion of locus homogeneity of MNGIE, and sheds light on the pathogenesis of conditions involved in the homeostasis of the mitochondrial nucleotide pool. Our findings suggest that patients with MNGIE who have normal thymidine levels should be tested for RRM2B mutations.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive disease due to ECGF1 gene mutations causing thymidine phosphorylase (TP) deficiency. Analysis of post-mortem samples of five MNGIE patients and two controls, revealed TP activity in all control tissues, but not in MNGIE samples. Converse to TP activity, thymidine and deoxyuridine were absent in control samples, but present in all tissues of MNGIE patients. Concentrations of both nucleosides in the tissues were generally higher than those observed in plasma of MNGIE patients. Our observations indicate that in the absence of TP activity, tissues accumulate nucleosides, which are excreted into plasma.
Mitochondria; MNGIE; thymidine phosphorylase; thymidine; deoxyuridine
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is replicated by the DNA polymerase γ in concert with accessory proteins such as the mitochondrial DNA helicase, single stranded DNA binding protein, topoisomerase, and initiating factors. Nucleotide precursors for mtDNA replication arise from the mitochondrial salvage pathway originating from transport of nucleosides, or alternatively from cytoplasmic reduction of ribonucleotides. Defects in mtDNA replication or nucleotide metabolism can cause mitochondrial genetic diseases due to mtDNA deletions, point mutations, or depletion which ultimately cause loss of oxidative phosphorylation. These genetic diseases include mtDNA depletion syndromes (MDS) such as Alpers or early infantile hepatocerebral syndromes, and mtDNA deletion disorders, such as progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO), ataxia-neuropathy, or mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). This review focuses on our current knowledge of genetic defects of mtDNA replication (POLG, POLG2, C10orf2) and nucleotide metabolism (TYMP, TK2, DGOUK, and RRM2B) that cause instability of mtDNA and mitochondrial disease.
DNA polymerase γ; mitochondrial DNA replication; nucleotide pools; mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome; progressive external ophthalmoplegia; ataxia-neuropathy
Case histories of two unrelated patients suffering from sensory ataxic neuropathy, dysarthria/ dysphagia and external ophthalmoplegia (SANDO) are reported. Both patients showed compound heterozygosity for POLG1 gene mutations, and presented with symptom of the clinical characteristics of SANDO. A patient with a p.A467T and p.W748S, well-known mutations showed a progressive course with early onset and multisystem involvement, including symptoms characteristics for mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). The second patient showed a less well-known p.T251I and p.G848S mutations with late onset and dysphagia/dysarthria dominated, moderate symptoms. This later is the second published case history, when these POLG1 gene mutations are the possible background of late onset SANDO, dominantly presenting with bulbar symptoms.
SANDO; heterozygote POLG1 mutations
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding thymidine phosphorylase (TP). This deficiency of TP leads to increased circulating levels of thymidine (deoxythymidine, dThd) and deoxyuridine (dUrd) and has been associated with multiple deletions and depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Here we describe 36 point mutations in mtDNA of tissues and cultured cells from MNGIE patients. Thirty-one mtDNA point mutations (86%) were T-to-C transitions, and of these, 25 were preceded by 5′-AA sequences. In addition, we identified a single base-pair mtDNA deletion and a TT-to-AA mutation. Next-nucleotide effects and dislocation mutagenesis may contribute to the formation of these mutations. These results provide the first demonstration that alterations of nucleoside metabolism can induce multiple sequence-specific point mutations in humans. We hypothesize that, in patients with TP deficiency, increased levels of dThd and dUrd cause mitochondrial nucleotide pool imbalances, which, in turn, lead to mtDNA abnormalities including site-specific point mutations.
In this brief review, I have highlighted recent advances in several areas
of mitochondrial medicine, including mtDNA-related diseases,
mendelian mitochondrial encephalomyopathies, and therapy. The
pathogenic mechanisms of mtDNA mutations, especially those affecting
mitochondrial protein synthesis, are still largely unknown.
The pathogenicity of homoplasmic mtDNA mutations has become
evident but has also called attention to modifying nuclear genes,
yet another example of impaired intergenomic signaling. The functional
significance of the homoplasmic changes associated with mitochondrial
haplogroups has been confirmed. Among the mendelian
disorders, a new form of “indirect hit” has been described, in
which the ultimate pathogenesis is toxic damage to the respiratory
chain. Three therapeutic strategies look promising: (i) allogeneic
hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in MNGIE (mitochondrial
neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy); (ii) bezafibrate, an activator
of PGC-1α, has proven effective in animal models of mitochondrial
myopathy; and (iii) pronucleus transfer into a normal
oocyte is effective in eliminating maternal transmission of mtDNA,
thus preventing the appearance of mtDNA-related disorders.
mtDNA-related disorders; mendelian mitochondrial
disorders; homoplasmy; pathogenesis; therapy
We have constructed Bayesian prior-based, amino-acid sequence profiles for the complete yeast mitochondrial proteome and used them to develop methods for identifying and characterizing the context of protein mutations that give rise to human mitochondrial diseases. (Bayesian priors are conditional probabilities that allow the estimation of the likelihood of an event - such as an amino-acid substitution - on the basis of prior occurrences of similar events.) Because these profiles can assemble sets of taxonomically very diverse homologs, they enable identification of the structurally and/or functionally most critical sites in the proteins on the basis of the degree of sequence conservation. These profiles can also find distant homologs with determined three-dimensional structures that aid in the interpretation of effects of missense mutations.
This survey reports such an analysis for 15 missense mutations, one insertion and three deletions involved in Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, Leigh syndrome, mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy, Mohr-Tranebjaerg syndrome, iron-storage disorders related to Friedreich's ataxia, and hereditary spastic paraplegia. We present structural correlations for seven of the mutations.
Of the 19 mutations analyzed, 14 involved changes in very highly conserved parts of the affected proteins. Five out of seven structural correlations provided reasonable explanations for the malfunctions. As additional genetic and structural data become available, this methodology can be extended. It has the potential for assisting in identifying new disease-related genes. Furthermore, profiles with structural homologs can generate mechanistic hypotheses concerning the underlying biochemical processes - and why they break down as a result of the mutations.
Mutations in SUCLA2, encoding the ß-subunit of succinyl-CoA synthetase of Krebs cycle, are one cause of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Patients have been reported to have severe progressive childhood-onset encephalomyopathy, and methylmalonic aciduria, often leading to death in childhood. We studied two families, with children manifesting with slowly progressive mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, hearing impairment and transient methylmalonic aciduria, without mtDNA depletion. The other family also showed dominant inheritance of bilateral retinoblastoma, which coexisted with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy in one patient. We found a variant in SUCLA2 leading to Asp333Gly change, homozygous in one patient and compound heterozygous in one. The latter patient also carried a deletion of 13q14 of the other allele, discovered with molecular karyotyping. The deletion spanned both SUCLA2 and RB1 gene regions, leading to manifestation of both mitochondrial disease and retinoblastoma. We made a homology model for human succinyl-CoA synthetase and used it for structure–function analysis of all reported pathogenic mutations in SUCLA2. On the basis of our model, all previously described mutations were predicted to result in decreased amounts of incorrectly assembled protein or disruption of ADP phosphorylation, explaining the severe early lethal manifestations. However, the Asp333Gly change was predicted to reduce the activity of the otherwise functional enzyme. On the basis of our findings, SUCLA2 mutations should be analyzed in patients with slowly progressive encephalomyopathy, even in the absence of methylmalonic aciduria or mitochondrial DNA depletion. In addition, an encephalomyopathy in a patient with retinoblastoma suggests mutations affecting SUCLA2.
Thymidine phosphorylase (TP) regulates intracellular and plasma thymidine levels. TP deficiency is hypothesized to (i) increase levels of thymidine in plasma, (ii) lead to mitochondrial DNA alterations, and (iii) cause mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). In order to elucidate the physiological roles of TP, we generated mice deficient in the TP gene. Although TP activity in the liver was inhibited in these mice, it was fully maintained in the small intestine. Murine uridine phosphorylase (UP), unlike human UP, cleaves thymidine, as well as uridine. We therefore generated TP-UP double-knockout (TP−/− UP−/−) mice. TP activities were inhibited in TP−/− UP−/− mice, and the level of thymidine in the plasma of TP−/− UP−/− mice was higher than for TP−/− mice. Unexpectedly, we could not observe alterations of mitochondrial DNA or pathological changes in the muscles of the TP−/− UP−/− mice, even when these mice were fed thymidine for 7 months. However, we did find hyperintense lesions on magnetic resonance T2 maps in the brain and axonal edema by electron microscopic study of the brain in TP−/− UP−/− mice. These findings suggested that the inhibition of TP activity caused the elevation of pyrimidine levels in plasma and consequent axonal swelling in the brains of mice. Since lesions in the brain do not appear to be due to mitochondrial alterations and pathological changes in the muscle were not found, this model will provide further insights into the causes of MNGIE.