Background: Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is associated with mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We report the clinical and molecular genetic findings of a patient who does not carry any of the common LHON mutations.
Methods: Clinical data were collected for the affected patient and two unaffected maternal family members. Complete sequence analysis of the mtDNA protein coding region was performed in the affected patient.
Results: Clinical examination of the affected patient showed typical features of LHON. A nucleotide exchange was detected at np14894 replacing an evolutionarily conserved phenylalanine by a leucine in the cytochrome b gene. The mutation was also present in two unaffected maternal family members, but absent in 60 other LHON lineages and 175 unrelated controls.
Conclusions: Cytochrome b plays an important role in the electron transport chain of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, and some mutations in the gene encoding cytochrome b have been associated with LHON. Our results may imply that the novel mutation at np14894 is responsible for LHON in this family.