Mitochondrial variants may influence the phenotypic manifestation of Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy-associated ND4 G11778A mutation

J Genet Genomics. 2008 Nov;35(11):649-55. doi: 10.1016/S1673-8527(08)60086-7.


We report here the characterization of a five-generation Han Chinese family with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). Strikingly, this Chinese family displayed high penetrance and expressivity of visual loss. The average age-of-onset of vision loss was 18 years in this family. Nineteen (11 males/8 females) of 29 matrilineal relatives in this family developed visual loss with a wide range of severity, ranging from blindness to normal vision. Sequence analysis of mitochondrial genome in this pedigree revealed the presence of the ND4 G11778A mutation and 44 other variants belonging to Asian haplogroup M7b. The G11778A mutation is present at homoplasmy in matrilineal relatives of this Chinese family. Of other variants, the CO1 G6480A, ND5 T12811C and Cytb A15395G located at highly conserved residues of corresponding polypeptides. In fact, these variants were implicated to be involved in other clinical abnormalities. Here, these variants may act in synergy with the primary LHON-associated G11778A mutation. Thus, the mitochondrial dysfunction caused by the primary ND4 G11778A mutation may be worsened by these mitochondrial variants. The results imply that the G6480A, T12811C and A15395G variants might have a potential modifier role in increasing the penetrance and expressivity of the primary LHON-associated G11778A mutation in this Chinese family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Child
  • China / ethnology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • NADH Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Optic Atrophy, Hereditary, Leber / genetics*
  • Optic Atrophy, Hereditary, Leber / pathology*
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4
  • NADH Dehydrogenase