Human diseases with impaired mitochondrial protein synthesis

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Sep;1807(9):1198-205. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.06.010. Epub 2011 Jun 25.


Mitochondrial respiratory chain deficiencies represent one of the major causes of metabolic disorders that are related to genetic defects in mitochondrial or nuclear DNA. The mitochondrial protein synthesis allows the synthesis of the 13 respiratory chain subunits encoded by mtDNA. Altogether, about 100 different proteins are involved in the translation of the 13 proteins encoded by the mitochondrial genome emphasizing the considerable investment required to maintain mitochondrial genetic system. Mitochondrial protein synthesis deficiency can be caused by mutations in any component of the translation apparatus including tRNA, rRNA and proteins. Mutations in mitochondrial rRNA and tRNAs have been first identified in various forms of mitochondrial disorders. Moreover abnormal translation due to mutation in nuclear genes encoding tRNA-modifying enzymes, ribosomal proteins, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, elongation and termination factors and translational activators have been successively described. These deficiencies are characterized by a huge clinical and genetic heterogeneity hampering to establish genotype-phenotype correlations and an easy diagnosis. One can hypothesize that a new technique for gene identification, such as exome sequencing will rapidly allow to expand the list of genes involved in abnormal mitochondrial protein synthesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Electron Transport
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Protein Biosynthesis*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial