Molecular mechanisms of riboflavin responsiveness in patients with ETF-QO variations and multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenation deficiency

Hum Mol Genet. 2012 Aug 1;21(15):3435-48. doi: 10.1093/hmg/dds175. Epub 2012 May 18.


Riboflavin-responsive forms of multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenation deficiency (RR-MADD) have been known for years, but with presumed defects in the formation of the flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) co-factor rather than genetic defects of electron transfer flavoprotein (ETF) or electron transfer flavoprotein-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (ETF-QO). It was only recently established that a number of RR-MADD patients carry genetic defects in ETF-QO and that the well-documented clinical efficacy of riboflavin treatment may be based on a chaperone effect that can compensate for inherited folding defects of ETF-QO. In the present study, we investigate the molecular mechanisms and the genotype-phenotype relationships for the riboflavin responsiveness in MADD, using a human HEK-293 cell expression system. We studied the influence of riboflavin and temperature on the steady-state level and the activity of variant ETF-QO proteins identified in patients with RR-MADD, or non- and partially responsive MADD. Our results showed that variant ETF-QO proteins associated with non- and partially responsive MADD caused severe misfolding of ETF-QO variant proteins when cultured in media with supplemented concentrations of riboflavin. In contrast, variant ETF-QO proteins associated with RR-MADD caused milder folding defects when cultured at the same conditions. Decreased thermal stability of the variants showed that FAD does not completely correct the structural defects induced by the variation. This may cause leakage of electrons and increased reactive oxygen species, as reflected by increased amounts of cellular peroxide production in HEK-293 cells expressing the variant ETF-QO proteins. Finally, we found indications of prolonged association of variant ETF-QO protein with the Hsp60 chaperonin in the mitochondrial matrix, supporting indications of folding defects in the variant ETF-QO proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electron Transport
  • Electron-Transferring Flavoproteins / genetics*
  • Electron-Transferring Flavoproteins / metabolism
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide / metabolism
  • Genetic Variation*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / genetics*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism
  • Multiple Acyl Coenzyme A Dehydrogenase Deficiency / genetics*
  • Multiple Acyl Coenzyme A Dehydrogenase Deficiency / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / metabolism
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Riboflavin / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • Electron-Transferring Flavoproteins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Flavin-Adenine Dinucleotide
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors
  • electron-transferring-flavoprotein dehydrogenase
  • Riboflavin