Background: Pathological mutations of mitochondrial (mt) DNA may cause specific diseases such as cardiomyopathies or hearing loss, or syndromes such as mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episode (MELAS) syndrome. We describe a novel mtDNA mutation in a patient with severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy associated with MELAS. The familial phenotype included 1) hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and MELAS, 2) clinically mild cardiac hypertrophy, and 3) deafness.
Methods: The proband and her first degree relatives underwent echo and electrocardiograms, and biochemical tests. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain was performed in the proband. mtDNA was fully analyzed by sequencing. DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction and direct automated sequencing were performed following standard procedures. Heteroplasmy of the novel mutation was quantified by densitometric analysis.
Results: A novel G1644A transition affecting the tRNA(Val) was identified in the proband and maternal relatives. The mutation has been interpreted as pathological because the G at the 1644 position is a highly conserved base, is heteroplasmic with higher levels of mutant DNA in the proband than in the relatives, is located in the unique tRNA(Val), is very close to a mutation described as causative of MELAS, and finally has not been found in 100 healthy controls.
Conclusions: Although it is rare for patients with MELAS to be referred to cardiological evaluation because of coexisting cardiomyopathy, cardiologists should be aware of this association as well as of the non cardiac signs that may address the diagnosis to mtDNA defect-related disease in families with a variable phenotype.