Heteroplasmic mtDNA mutation (T----G) at 8993 can cause Leigh disease when the percentage of abnormal mtDNA is high

Am J Hum Genet. 1992 Apr;50(4):852-8.


A female infant showing lacticacidemia, hypotonia, and neurodegenerative disease died at 7 mo of age. Autopsy revealed lesions typical of Leigh disease, both in the basal ganglia and in the brain stem. A maternal aunt and uncle died 1 year and 5 mo, respectively, after following a similar clinical course, while another uncle, presently 33 years of age, has retinitis pigmentosa and ataxia and is mentally retarded. PCR restriction-digest analysis of mtDNA isolated from the proband revealed a T-to-G change at position 8993, creating a new AvaI restriction site. The mutation present in the ATP 6 gene results in the substitution of an arginine residue for a leucine. The indexed patient had greater than 95% abnormal mtDNA in her skin fibroblasts, brain, kidney, and liver tissues, as measured by laser densitometry. The maternal aunt who died at age 1 year had greater than 95% abnormal mtDNA in her lymphoblasts. The uncle with retinitis pigmentosa had 78% and 79% abnormal mtDNA in his skin fibroblasts and lymphoblasts, respectively, while an asymptomatic maternal aunt and her son had no trace of this mutation. The mother of the index case had 71% and 39% abnormal mtDNA in her skin fibroblasts and lymphoblasts, respectively, showing that the heteroplasmy can be variable, on a tissue-specific basis, within one individual. This shows that mtDNA mutations at 8993 can produce the clinical phenotype of Leigh disease in addition to the phenotype of ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa described by Holt et al.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leigh Disease / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Mitochondrial