Isolated complex I deficiency is the most commonly reported enzyme defect in paediatric mitochondrial disorders, and may arise due to mutations in nuclear-encoded structural or assembly genes, or the mitochondrial genome. We present the clinical, biochemical and molecular genetic data in a young girl whose clinical picture is dominated by chronic renal failure, myopathy and persistent lactic acidosis. An isolated complex I deficiency in muscle was identified due to a novel mutation (m.12425delA) in the MTND5 gene. This single nucleotide deletion is heteroplasmic and detectable in several tissues from the proband but not her mother, suggesting a de novo mutation event. The description of the first frameshift mutation in a mitochondrial complex I gene affirms mitochondrial DNA mutations as an important cause of isolated complex I deficiency in children and the importance of whole mitochondrial genome sequencing in the diagnostic work-up to elucidate the underlying molecular genetic abnormality and provide important genetic advice.
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