Mitochondrial DNA maintenance defects.

Research paper by Ayman W AW El-Hattab, William J WJ Craigen, Fernando F Scaglia

Indexed on: 22 Feb '17Published on: 22 Feb '17Published in: Biochimica et biophysica acta


The maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depends on a number of nuclear gene-encoded proteins including a battery of enzymes forming the replisome needed to synthesize mtDNA. These enzymes need to be in balanced quantities to function properly that is in part achieved by exchanging intramitochondrial contents through mitochondrial fusion. In addition, mtDNA synthesis requires a balanced supply of nucleotides that is achieved by nucleotide recycling inside the mitochondria and import from the cytosol. Mitochondrial DNA maintenance defects (MDMDs) are a group of diseases caused by pathogenic variants in the nuclear genes involved in mtDNA maintenance resulting in impaired mtDNA synthesis leading to quantitative (mtDNA depletion) and qualitative (multiple mtDNA deletions) defects in mtDNA. Defective mtDNA leads to organ dysfunction due to insufficient mtDNA-encoded protein synthesis, resulting in an inadequate energy production to meet the needs of affected organs. MDMDs are inherited as autosomal recessive or dominant traits, and are associated with a broad phenotypic spectrum ranging from mild adult-onset ophthalmoplegia to severe infantile fatal hepatic failure. To date, pathogenic variants in 20 nuclear genes known to be crucial for mtDNA maintenance have been linked to MDMDs, including genes encoding enzymes of mtDNA replication machinery (POLG, POLG2, TWNK, TFAM, RNASEH1, MGME1, and DNA2), genes encoding proteins that function in maintaining a balanced mitochondria nucleotide pool (TK2, DGUOK, SUCLG1, SUCLA2, ABAT, RRM2B, TYMP, SLC25A4, AGK, and MPV17), and genes encoding proteins involved in mitochondria fusion (OPA1, MFN2, and FBXL4).