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1.  Clinical and biochemical improvements in a patient with MNGIE following enzyme replacement 
Neurology  2013;81(14):1269-1271.
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) is a rare autosomal recessive metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of thymidine phosphorylase (TP, EC2.4.2.4) 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
PMCID: PMC3795612  PMID: 23966250
2.  Poor Outcome in a Mitochondrial Neurogastrointestinal Encephalomyopathy Patient with a Novel TYMP Mutation: The Need for Early Diagnosis 
Case Reports in Neurology  2012;4(3):248-253.
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.
PMCID: PMC3551392  PMID: 23341816
Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy; Thymidine phosphorylase; TYMP
3.  MNGIE Syndrome: Liver Cirrhosis Should Be Ruled Out Prior to Bone Marrow Transplantation 
JIMD Reports  2012;10:41-44.
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.
PMCID: PMC3755566  PMID: 23430799
4.  Biochemical abnormalities in a patient with thymidine phosphorylase deficiency with fatal outcome 
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.
PMCID: PMC3757267  PMID: 20151198
5.  Site-specific somatic mitochondrial DNA point mutations in patients with thymidine phosphorylase deficiency 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;111(12):1913-1921.
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.
PMCID: PMC161426  PMID: 12813027
6.  Limited dCTP Availability Accounts for Mitochondrial DNA Depletion in Mitochondrial Neurogastrointestinal Encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1002035.
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.
Author Summary
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.
PMCID: PMC3069123  PMID: 21483760
7.  Thymidine and deoxyuridine accumulate in tissues of patients with mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE) 
FEBS letters  2007;581(18):3410-3414.
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.
PMCID: PMC1986782  PMID: 17612528
Mitochondria; MNGIE; thymidine phosphorylase; thymidine; deoxyuridine
8.  Sensory ataxic neuropathy with dysarthria/dysphagia and ophthalmoplegia (SANDO). Two case reports 
Acta Myologica  2011;30(3):188-190.
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.
PMCID: PMC3298093  PMID: 22616202
SANDO; heterozygote POLG1 mutations
9.  Emergency surgery in chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction due to mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy: case reports 
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.
PMCID: PMC3018369  PMID: 21143863
10.  Targeted Deletion of Both Thymidine Phosphorylase and Uridine Phosphorylase and Consequent Disorders in Mice 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(14):5212-5221.
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.
PMCID: PMC139774  PMID: 12077348
11.  Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndromes: Review and Updates of Genetic Basis, Manifestations, and Therapeutic Options 
Neurotherapeutics  2013;10(2):186-198.
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.
PMCID: PMC3625391  PMID: 23385875
Mitochondrial myopathy; Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy; Hepatocerebral syndrome; Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal (MNGIE) disease; Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome
12.  Defects in Mitochondrial DNA Replication and Human Disease 
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.
PMCID: PMC3244805  PMID: 22176657
DNA polymerase γ; mitochondrial DNA replication; nucleotide pools; mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome; progressive external ophthalmoplegia; ataxia-neuropathy
13.  Inherited Mitochondrial Diseases of DNA Replication 
Annual review of medicine  2008;59:131-146.
Mitochondrial genetic diseases can result from defects in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the form of deletions, point mutations, or depletion, which ultimately cause loss of oxidative phosphorylation. These mutations may be spontaneous, maternally inherited, or a result of inherited nuclear defects in genes that maintain mtDNA. This review focuses on our current understanding of nuclear gene mutations that produce mtDNA alterations and cause mitochondrial depletion syndrome (MDS), progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO), ataxia-neuropathy, or mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). To date, all of these etiologic nuclear genes fall into one of two categories: genes whose products function directly at the mtDNA replication fork, such as POLG, POLG2, and TWINKLE, or genes whose products supply the mitochondria with deoxynucleotide triphosphate pools needed for DNA replication, such as TK2, DGUOK, TP, SUCLA2, ANT1, and possibly the newly identified MPV17.
PMCID: PMC2271032  PMID: 17892433
DNA polymerase γ; nucleotide pools; mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome; progressive external ophthalmoplegia; ataxia-neuropathy
14.  Pathogenesis and treatment of mitochondrial myopathies: recent advances  
Acta Myologica  2010;29(2):333-338.
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.
PMCID: PMC3040593  PMID: 21314015
mtDNA-related disorders; mendelian mitochondrial disorders; homoplasmy; pathogenesis; therapy
15.  Mitochondrial Neurogastrointestinal Encephalopathy Due to Mutations in RRM2B 
Archives of neurology  2009;66(8):1028-1032.
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.
PMCID: PMC2747647  PMID: 19667227
16.  CoQ10 deficiencies and MNGIE: Two Treatable Mitochondrial Disorders 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2012;1820(5):625-631.
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.
General Significance
Studies of CoQ10 deficiencies and MNGIE illustrate how understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of mitochondrial diseases can lead to meaningful therapies.
PMCID: PMC3319470  PMID: 22274133
17.  Unbalanced deoxynucleotide pools cause mitochondrial DNA instability in thymidine phosphorylase-deficient mice 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;18(4):714-722.
Replication and repair of DNA require equilibrated pools of deoxynucleoside triphosphate precursors. This concept has been proven by in vitro studies over many years, but in vivo models are required to demonstrate its relevance to multicellular organisms and to human diseases. Accordingly, we have generated thymidine phosphorylase (TP) and uridine phosphorylase (UP) double knockout (TP−/−UP−/−) mice, which show severe TP deficiency, increased thymidine and deoxyuridine in tissues and elevated mitochondrial deoxythymidine triphosphate. As consequences of the nucleotide pool imbalances, brains of mutant mice developed partial depletion of mtDNA, deficiencies of respiratory chain complexes and encephalopathy. These findings largely account for the pathogenesis of mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy (MNGIE), the first inherited human disorder of nucleoside metabolism associated with somatic DNA instability.
PMCID: PMC2638828  PMID: 19028666
18.  A Novel Mutation in the Mitochondrial DNA Cytochrome b Gene (MTCYB) in a Patient With Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy, Lactic Acidosis, and Strokelike Episodes Syndrome 
Journal of child neurology  2012;28(2):236-242.
Mutations in the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene (MTCYB) have been commonly associated with isolated mitochondrial myopathy and exercise intolerance, rarely with multisystem disorders, and only once with a parkinsonism/mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and strokelike episodes (MELAS) overlap syndrome. Here, we describe a novel mutation (m.14864 T>C) in MTCYB in a 15-year-old girl with a clinical history of migraines, epilepsy, sensorimotor neuropathy, and strokelike episodes, a clinical picture reminiscent of MELAS. The mutation, which changes a highly conserved cysteine to arginine at amino acid position 40 of cytochrome b, was heteroplasmic in muscle, blood, fibroblasts, and urinary sediment from the patient but absent in accessible tissues from her asymptomatic mother. This case demonstrates that MTCYB must be included in the already long list of mitochondrial DNA genes that have been associated with the MELAS phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3973035  PMID: 22638077
cytochrome b; MTCYB; mtDNA; MELAS; mitochondria
19.  Multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA in several tissues of a patient with severe retarded depression and familial progressive external ophthalmoplegia. 
Multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have recently been reported in familial progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO), in a case of progressive encephalomyopathy, and in inherited recurrent myoglobinuria. The inheritance of familial PEO has been autosomal dominant, which indicates that a mutation in an unknown nuclear gene results in several mtDNA deletions of different sizes in these patients. We report a patient with autosomal dominant PEO, whose major clinical symptom, however, was severe retarded depression. The morphological analyses of the tissue samples derived from autopsy showed various abnormalities in the mitochondria in all the tissues studied. The activities of the respiratory chain enzymes encoded by mtDNA were remarkably reduced in the skeletal muscle. The mtDNA analyses confirmed that besides myopathy, this patient had a multisystem disorder with widespread distribution of multiple deletions of mtDNA. The highest percentage of mutated mtDNA was found in the brain, skeletal muscle and the heart, the relative quantity of mutated mtDNA correlating to the severity of the clinical symptoms.
PMCID: PMC443063  PMID: 1634620
20.  Coenzyme Q and Mitochondrial Disease 
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain and an important antioxidant. Deficiency of CoQ10 is a clinically and molecularly heterogeneous syndrome, which, to date, has been found to be autosomal recessive in inheritance and generally responsive to CoQ10 supplementation. CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with five major clinical phenotypes: (1) encephalomyopathy, (2) severe infantile multisystemic disease, (3) cerebellar ataxia, (4) isolated myopathy, and (5) nephrotic syndrome. In a few patients, pathogenic mutations have been identified in genes involved in the biosynthesis of CoQ10 (primary CoQ10 deficiencies) or in genes not directly related to CoQ10 biosynthesis (secondary CoQ10 deficiencies). Respiratory chain defects, ROS production, and apoptosis contribute to the pathogenesis of primary CoQ10 deficiencies. In vitro and in vivo studies are necessary to further understand the pathogenesis of the disease and to develop more effective therapies.
PMCID: PMC3097389  PMID: 20818733
coenzyme Q10; respiratory chain activity; ROS; oxidative stress
21.  Mitochondrial encephalomyopathy: variable clinical expression within a single kindred. 
The clinical manifestations of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy are described in four generations of a single kindred. The age of onset of major neurological disturbance varied from 3-70 years. In some patients, deafness was the only manifestation; in others, recurrent bouts of status epilepticus associated with focal neurological deficits and headache, caused severe disability or death. Examples of all three adult forms of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy: MELAS, MERFF and Kearns Sayre syndrome, were represented within the kindred. Associated features included deafness, short stature, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, migraine, peptic ulceration and severe constipation. The nt 3243 A-G MELAS mutation was detected in two members of the kindred. This study highlights the diversity of clinical expression of a mitochondrial mutation within a single kindred.
PMCID: PMC1015147  PMID: 8350109
22.  Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Due to a Novel Mutation in ACAD9 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(9):1177-1179.
Mendelian forms of complex I deficiency are usually associated with fatal infantile encephalomyopathy. Application of “MitoExome” sequencing (deep sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome and the coding exons of >1000 nuclear genes encoding the mitochondrial proteome) allowed us to reveal an unusual clinical variant of complex I deficiency due to a novel homozygous mutation in ACAD9. The patient had an infantile-onset but slowly progressive encephalomyopathy and responded favorably to riboflavin therapy.
A 13-year-old boy had exercise intolerance, weakness, and mild psychomotor delay. Muscle histochemistry showed mitochondrial proliferation, and biochemical analysis revealed severe complex I deficiency (15% of normal). The level of complex I holoprotein was reduced as determined by use of Western blot both in muscle (54%) and in fibroblasts (57%).
The clinical presentation of complex I deficiency due ACAD9 mutations spans from fatal infantile encephalocardiomyopathy to mild encephalomyopathy. Our data support the notion that ACAD9 functions as a complex I assembly protein. ACAD9 is a flavin adenine dinucleotide–containing flavoprotein, and treatment with riboflavin is advisable.
PMCID: PMC3891824  PMID: 23836383
23.  Modes of Metabolic Compensation during Mitochondrial Disease Using the Drosophila Model of ATP6 Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25823.
Numerous mitochondrial DNA mutations cause mitochondrial encephalomyopathy: a collection of related diseases for which there exists no effective treatment. Mitochondrial encephalomyopathies are complex multisystem diseases that exhibit a relentless progression of severity, making them both difficult to treat and study. The pathogenic and compensatory metabolic changes that are associated with chronic mitochondrial dysfunction are not well understood. The Drosophila ATP61 mutant models human mitochondrial encephalomyopathy and allows the study of metabolic changes and compensation that occur throughout the lifetime of an affected animal. ATP61animals have a nearly complete loss of ATP synthase activity and an acute bioenergetic deficit when they are asymptomatic, but surprisingly we discovered no chronic bioenergetic deficit in these animals during their symptomatic period. Our data demonstrate dynamic metabolic compensatory mechanisms that sustain normal energy availability and activity despite chronic mitochondrial complex V dysfunction resulting from an endogenous mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. ATP61animals compensate for their loss of oxidative phosphorylation through increases in glycolytic flux, ketogenesis and Kreb's cycle activity early during pathogenesis. However, succinate dehydrogenase activity is reduced and mitochondrial supercomplex formation is severely disrupted contributing to the pathogenesis seen in ATP61 animals. These studies demonstrate the dynamic nature of metabolic compensatory mechanisms and emphasize the need for time course studies in tractable animal systems to elucidate disease pathogenesis and novel therapeutic avenues.
PMCID: PMC3185040  PMID: 21991365
24.  Pathogenic Mitochondrial tRNA Point Mutations: Nine Novel Mutations Affirm Their Importance as a Cause of Mitochondrial Disease 
Human Mutation  2013;34(9):1260-1268.
Mutations in the mitochondrial genome, and in particular the mt-tRNAs, are an important cause of human disease. Accurate classification of the pathogenicity of novel variants is vital to allow accurate genetic counseling for patients and their families. The use of weighted criteria based on functional studies—outlined in a validated pathogenicity scoring system—is therefore invaluable in determining whether novel or rare mt-tRNA variants are pathogenic. Here, we describe the identification of nine novel mt-tRNA variants in nine families, in which the probands presented with a diverse range of clinical phenotypes including mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes, isolated progressive external ophthalmoplegia, epilepsy, deafness and diabetes. Each of the variants identified (m.4289T>C, MT-TI; m.5541C>T, MT-TW; m.5690A>G, MT-TN; m.7451A>T, MT-TS1; m.7554G>A, MT-TD; m.8304G>A, MT-TK; m.12206C>T, MT-TH; m.12317T>C, MT-TL2; m.16023G>A, MT-TP) was present in a different tRNA, with evidence in support of pathogenicity, and where possible, details of mutation transmission documented. Through the application of the pathogenicity scoring system, we have classified six of these variants as “definitely pathogenic” mutations (m.5541C>T, m.5690A>G, m.7451A>T, m.12206C>T, m.12317T>C, and m.16023G>A), whereas the remaining three currently lack sufficient evidence and are therefore classed as ‘possibly pathogenic’ (m.4289T>C, m.7554G>A, and m.8304G>A).
PMCID: PMC3884772  PMID: 23696415
mitochondrial tRNA; single-fiber studies; mitochondrial disease; segregation
25.  Infantile Progressive Hepatoencephalomyopathy with Combined OXPHOS Deficiency due to Mutations in the Mitochondrial Translation Elongation Factor Gene GFM1 
JIMD Reports  2011;5:113-122.
Mitochondrial disorders are a heterogeneous group of often multisystemic and early fatal diseases caused by defects in the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) system. Given the complexity and intricacy of the OXPHOS system, it is not surprising that the underlying molecular defect remains unidentified in many patients with a mitochondrial disorder. Here, we report the clinical features and diagnostic workup leading to the elucidation of the genetic basis for a combined complex I and IV OXPHOS deficiency secondary to a mitochondrial translational defect in an infant who presented with rapidly progressive liver failure, encephalomyopathy, and severe refractory lactic acidemia. Sequencing of the GFM1 gene revealed two inherited novel, heterozygous mutations: a.539delG (p.Gly180AlafsX11) in exon 4 which resulted in a frameshift mutation, and a second c.688G > A (p.Gly230Ser) mutation in exon 5. This missense mutation is likely to be pathogenic since it affects an amino acid residue that is highly conserved across species and is absent from the dbSNP and 1,000 genomes databases. Review of literature and comparison were made with previously reported cases of this recently identified mitochondrial disorder encoded by a nuclear gene. Although limited in number, nuclear gene defects causing mitochondrial translation abnormalities represent a new, rapidly expanding field of mitochondrial medicine and should potentially be considered in the diagnostic investigation of infants with progressive hepatoencephalomyopathy and combined OXPHOS disorders.
PMCID: PMC3509912  PMID: 23430926

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