Importance: Isolated cytochrome-c oxidase (COX) deficiency is one of the most frequent respiratory chain defects seen in human mitochondrial disease. Typically, patients present with severe neonatal multisystem disease and have an early fatal outcome. We describe an adult patient with isolated COX deficiency associated with a relatively mild clinical phenotype comprising myopathy; demyelinating neuropathy; premature ovarian failure; short stature; hearing loss; pigmentary maculopathy; and renal tubular dysfunction.
Observations: Whole-exome sequencing detected 1 known pathogenic and 1 novel COX10 mutation: c.1007A>T; p.Asp336Val, previously associated with fatal infantile COX deficiency, and c.1015C>T; p.Arg339Trp. Muscle COX holoenzyme and subassemblies were undetectable on immunoblots of blue-native gels, whereas denaturing gels and immunocytochemistry showed reduced core subunit MTCO1. Heme absorption spectra revealed low heme aa3 compatible with heme A:farnesyltransferase deficiency due to COX10 dysfunction. Both mutations demonstrated respiratory deficiency in yeast, confirming pathogenicity. A COX10 protein model was used to predict the structural consequences of the novel Arg339Trp and all previously reported substitutions.
Conclusions and relevance: These findings establish that COX10 mutations cause adult mitochondrial disease. Nuclear modifiers, epigenetic phenomenon, and/or environmental factors may influence the disease phenotype caused by reduced COX activity and contribute to the variable clinical severity related to COX10 dysfunction.