MERRF/MELAS overlap syndrome in a family with A3243G mtDNA mutation

Clin Neuropathol. Mar-Apr 2002;21(2):72-6.


Four members of a family were found to carry the A3243G mtDNA mutation. Clinical features varied from typical MELAS to myoclonic epilepsy to simple deafness without neurological signs. Several other members of the family had symptoms consistent with a mitochondrial disease. Muscle biopsy in 3 of the 4 patients showed the most prominent mitochondrial alterations with partial deficiency of cytochrome c oxidase in the case with the mildest phenotype. Mitochondrial DNA analysis detected a variable percentage of A3243G mutation, roughly correlating with the phenotype. The interesting feature of the family lies in the great intrafamilial variability of the severity of clinical expression, encompassing MELAS and MERRF features, associated with the A3243G mtDNA mutation. A search for the most common mtDNA mutations is recommended in all patients featuring incomplete MELAS or MERRF syndromes and in all familial cases presenting minimal clinical signs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Carrier Screening
  • Humans
  • MELAS Syndrome / diagnosis
  • MELAS Syndrome / genetics*
  • MELAS Syndrome / pathology
  • MERRF Syndrome / diagnosis
  • MERRF Syndrome / genetics*
  • MERRF Syndrome / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu