Common and Novel TMEM70 Mutations in a Cohort of Italian Patients with Mitochondrial Encephalocardiomyopathy

JIMD Rep. 2015:15:71-8. doi: 10.1007/8904_2014_300. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


ATP synthase or complex V (cV) of the oxidative phosphorylation system is responsible for the production of ATP, dissipating the electrochemical gradient generated by the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In addition to maternally transmitted cV dysfunction caused by mutations in mtDNA genes (MT-ATP6 or MT-ATP8), encoding cV subunits, recessive mutations in the nuclear TMEM70 are the most frequent cause of ATP synthase deficiency.We report on a cohort of ten Italian patients presenting with neonatal lactic acidosis, respiratory distress, hypotonia, cardiomyopathy and psychomotor delay and harbouring mutations in TMEM70, including the common splice mutation and four novel variants. TMEM70 protein was virtually absent in all tested TMEM70 patients' specimens.The exact function of TMEM70 is not known, but it is considered to impact on cV assembly since TMEM70 mutations have been associated with isolated cV activity reduction. We detected a clear cV biochemical defect in TMEM70 patients' fibroblasts, whereas the assay was not reliable in frozen muscle. Nevertheless, the evaluation of the amount of holocomplexes in patients with TMEM70 mutations showed a nearly absent cV in muscles and a strong decrease of cV with accumulation of sub-assembly species in fibroblasts. In our cohort we found not only cV deficiencies but also impairment of other OXPHOS complexes. By ultrastructural analysis of muscle tissue from one patient with isolated cV deficiency, we found a severely impaired mitochondrial morphology with loss of the cristae. These findings indicate that cV impairment could indirectly alter other respiratory chain complex activities by disrupting the mitochondrial cristae structure.