DNM1L-related mitochondrial fission defect presenting as refractory epilepsy

Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 Jul;24(7):1084-8. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.243. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Mitochondrial fission and fusion are dynamic processes vital to mitochondrial quality control and the maintenance of cellular respiration. In dividing mitochondria, membrane scission is accomplished by a dynamin-related GTPase, DNM1L, that oligomerizes at the site of fission and constricts in a GTP-dependent manner. There is only a single previous report of DNM1L-related clinical disease: a female neonate with encephalopathy due to defective mitochondrial and peroxisomal fission (EMPF; OMIM #614388), a lethal disorder characterized by cerebral dysgenesis, seizures, lactic acidosis, elevated very long chain fatty acids, and abnormally elongated mitochondria and peroxisomes. Here, we describe a second individual, diagnosed via whole-exome sequencing, who presented with developmental delay, refractory epilepsy, prolonged survival, and no evidence of mitochondrial or peroxisomal dysfunction on standard screening investigations in blood and urine. EEG was nonspecific, showing background slowing with frequent epileptiform activity at the frontal and central head regions. Electron microscopy of skeletal muscle showed subtle, nonspecific abnormalities of cristal organization, and confocal microscopy of patient fibroblasts showed striking hyperfusion of the mitochondrial network. A panel of further bioenergetic studies in patient fibroblasts showed no significant differences versus controls. The proband's de novo DNM1L variant, NM_012062.4:c.1085G>A; NP_036192.2:p.(Gly362Asp), falls within the middle (oligomerization) domain of DNM1L, implying a likely dominant-negative mechanism. This disorder, which presents nonspecifically and affords few diagnostic clues, can be diagnosed by means of DNM1L sequencing and/or confocal microscopy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Developmental Disabilities / genetics*
  • Developmental Disabilities / pathology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / genetics*
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / pathology
  • Dynamins
  • Exome
  • Fibroblasts / ultrastructure
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Syndrome


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • DNM1L protein, human
  • Dynamins

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