Mitochondrial complex I deficiency is the most frequently encountered defect of the oxidative phosphorylation system. To identify the genetic cause of the complex I deficiency, we screened the gene encoding the NDUFS1 subunit. We report 3 patients with low residual complex I activity expressed in cultured fibroblasts, which displayed novel mutations in the NDUFS1 gene. One mutation introduces a premature stop codon, 3 mutations cause a substitution of amino acids and another mutation a deletion of one amino acid. The fibroblasts of the patients display a decreased amount and activity of complex I. In addition, a disturbed assembly pattern was observed. These results suggest that NDUFS1 is a prime candidate to screen for disease-causing mutations in patients with a very low residual complex I activity in cultured fibroblasts.
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