A T-to-C missense mutation at nucleotide position 9,185 in the protein-coding ATP6 gene of the mitochondrial genome was present at high heteroplasmy in members of a Canadian family with Leigh syndrome with predominant ataxia and peripheral neuropathy. This mutation results in the substitution of a proline residue for an evolutionary-conserved leucine at position of amino acid 220 near the carboxyl terminus of the mitochondrial protein. The index patient and brother, who had an identical clinical presentation, had >90% mutant mtDNA in cultured skin fibroblasts, lymphocytes, and whole blood. Their mother and a maternal uncle, symptomatic with a peripheral neuropathy alone, had 86% and 85% heteroplasmy, respectively. Symptomatic maternal cousins with early onset revealed 90% and 91% mutant mtDNA in all tissues analyzed. Studies of lymphoblasts from the asymptomatic maternal grandmother and eldest brother of the proband were heteroplasmic for mutant mtDNA with 56% and 17%, respectively. Biochemical analysis demonstrated normal respiratory chain enzyme activity in muscle and fibroblasts, normal ATP synthesis, but reduced oligomycin-sensitive H(+)ATPase in cultured lymphoblast mitochondria. We propose that the 9,185T > C mtDNA mutation is pathogenic even though the initial phenotype is mild and the biochemical phenotype not easily detectable.
Copyright 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.