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 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 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
DNA polymerase γ; nucleotide pools; mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome; progressive external ophthalmoplegia; ataxia-neuropathy
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
coenzyme Q10; respiratory chain activity; ROS; oxidative stress
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.
Mitochondrial disorders with multiple mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) enzyme deficiency and depletion of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are autosomal recessive conditions due to mutations in several nuclear genes necessary for proper mtDNA maintenance.
In this report, we describe two Italian siblings presenting with encephalomyopathy and mtDNA depletion in muscle. By whole exome-sequencing and prioritization of candidate genes, we identified a novel homozygous missense mutation in the SUCLA2 gene in a highly conserved aminoacid residue. Although a recurrent mutation in the SUCLA2 gene is relatively frequent in the Faroe Islands, mutations in other populations are extremely rare. In contrast with what has been reported in other patients, methyl-malonic aciduria, a biomarker for this genetic defect, was absent in our proband and very mildly elevated in her affected sister.
This report demonstrates that next-generation technologies, particularly exome-sequencing, are user friendly, powerful means for the identification of disease genes in genetically and clinically heterogeneous inherited conditions, such as mitochondrial disorders.
► We report a novel homozygous mutation in the SUCLA2, identified by exome sequencing. ► Methyl-malonic aciduria can be absent in patients with SUCLA2 mutations. ► Exome sequencing is useful for the diagnosis of genetically heterogeneous diseases.
MDS, mtDNA depletion syndrome; MMA, methylmalonic acid; MRC, mitochondrial respiratory chain; mtDNA, mitochondrial DNA; NGS, next-generation sequencing; OXPHOS, oxidative phosphorylation; Mitochondrial disorder; Encephalomyopathy; Mitochondrial DNA depletion; SUCLA2; Exome-sequencing
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.
Deficiency of thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) is a frequent cause of isolated myopathy or encephalomyopathy in children with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion. To determine the bases of disease onset, organ specificity and severity of TK2 deficiency, we have carefully characterized Tk2 H126N knockin mice (Tk2−/−). Although normal until postnatal day 8, Tk2−/− mice rapidly develop fatal encephalomyopathy between postnatal days 10 and 13. We have observed that wild-type Tk2 activity is constant in the second week of life, while Tk1 activity decreases significantly between postnatal days 8 and 13. The down-regulation of Tk1 activity unmasks Tk2 deficiency in Tk2−/− mice and correlates with the onset of mtDNA depletion in the brain and the heart. Resistance to pathology in Tk2 mutant organs depends on compensatory mechanisms to the reduced mtDNA level. Our analyses at postnatal day 13 have revealed that Tk2−/− heart significantly increases mitochondrial transcript levels relative to the mtDNA content. This transcriptional compensation allows the heart to maintain normal levels of mtDNA-encoded proteins. The up-regulation in mitochondrial transcripts is not due to increased expression of the master mitochondrial biogenesis regulators peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1 alpha and nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2, or to enhanced expression of the mitochondrial transcription factors A, B1 or B2. Instead, Tk2−/− heart compensates for mtDNA depletion by down-regulating the expression of the mitochondrial transcriptional terminator transcription factor 3 (MTERF3). Understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow Tk2 mutant organs to be spared may help design therapies for Tk2 deficiency.
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.
Kearns–Sayre syndrome (KSS) belongs to the group of neuromuscular disorders known as mitochondrial encephalomyopathies. It has characteristic syndromal features, which include: chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia, bilateral atypical pigmentary retinopathy, and cardiac conduction abnormalities. So far, only a single case has been reported where a patient with KSS had a normal retina. Herein, we report this extremely rare variant of KSS, which not only presented later than the normal age of presentation, but also had minimal pigmentary retinopathy.
Atypical pigmentary retinopathy; Kearns–Sayre syndrome; ptosis; red ragged fibers
Thymidine kinase 2 (TK2) deficiency in humans causes mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion syndrome. To study the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease and search for treatment options, we previously generated and described a TK2 deficient mouse strain (TK2−/−) that progressively loses its mtDNA. The TK2−/− mouse model displays symptoms similar to humans harboring TK2 deficient infantile fatal encephalomyopathy. Here, we have studied the TK2−/− mouse model to clarify the pathological role of progressive mtDNA depletion in liver for the severe outcome of TK2 deficiency. We observed that a gradual depletion of mtDNA in the liver of the TK2−/− mice was accompanied by increasingly hypertrophic mitochondria and accumulation of fat vesicles in the liver cells. The levels of cholesterol and nonesterified fatty acids were elevated and there was accumulation of long chain acylcarnitines in plasma of the TK2−/− mice. In mice with hepatic mtDNA levels below 20%, the blood sugar and the ketone levels dropped. These mice also exhibited reduced mitochondrial β-oxidation due to decreased transport of long chain acylcarnitines into the mitochondria. The gradual loss of mtDNA in the liver of the TK2−/− mice causes impaired mitochondrial function that leads to defect β-oxidation and, as a result, insufficient production of ketone bodies and glucose. This study provides insight into the mechanism of encephalomyopathy caused by TK2 deficiency-induced mtDNA depletion that may be used to explore novel therapeutic strategies.
Autosomal dominant Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias are Mendelian disorders characterized by the accumulation of multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA in critical tissues. Most of the Autosomal dominant Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias families carry heterozygous mutations in one of three genes: ANT1, encoding the muscle-heart specific mitochondrial adenine nucleotide translocator, Twinkle, encoding the mitochondrial DNA helicase, and POLG1, encoding the catalytic subunit of the mitochondrial DNA-specific polymerase. Mutations in both POLG1 alleles are also found in autosomal recessive Progressive External Ophthalmoplegias sibships with multiple affected members and in apparently sporadic cases. In addition, recessive POLG1 mutations are responsible for three additional diseases: Alpers-Huttenlocher hepatopathic poliodystrophy, Sensory-Ataxic Neuropathy Dysarthria and Ophthalmoplegia and juvenile SpinoCerebellar Ataxia-Epilepsy syndrome. Mitochondrial neuro-gastro-intestinal encephalomyopathy is an autosomal recessive disorder of juvenile onset, caused by mutations in the gene encoding Thymidine Phosphorylase. Thymidine Phosphorylase is involved in the control and maintenance of the pyrimidine nucleoside pool of the cell. Finally, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome is a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by a reduction in mitochondrial DNA copy number. Clinically, they include a myopathic form, a more generalized encephalomyopathic form and a fatal infantile hepato-cerebral syndrome leading to rapidly progressive liver and brain failure. To date, eight genes have been associated with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Novel disease genes have recently been added to this list, including OPA1 and GFER, and new clinical variants add further complexity to this expanding area of mitochondrial medicine.
Mitochondrial DNA; oxidative phosphorylation; mitochondrial disorders; MtDNA multiple deletions; MtDNA depletion