A null mutation in MICU2 causes abnormal mitochondrial calcium homeostasis and a severe neurodevelopmental disorder

Brain. 2017 Nov 1;140(11):2806-2813. doi: 10.1093/brain/awx237.


Mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is a tightly controlled process that is required for a variety of cellular functions. The mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex plays a critical role in this process. MICU2 is a major component of the mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex and its deficiency has been shown to impair mitochondrial calcium [Ca2+]m homeostasis although the exact mechanism remains unclear. We used exome sequencing, positional mapping, and functional characterization of MICU2 deficiency to investigate the role of MICU2 in calcium homeostasis. Using combined autozygome/exome analysis, a homozygous truncating mutation in MICU2 was found to fully segregate with a neurodevelopmental disorder in the form of severe cognitive impairment, spasticity, and white matter involvement in a multiplex consanguineous family. Patient-derived MICU2-deficient cells displayed impaired [Ca2+]m homeostasis, with associated increase in mitochondrial sensitivity to oxidative stress, and abnormal regulation of inner mitochondrial membrane potential. This is the first demonstration of MICU2 deficiency in humans, which we suggest causes a distinct neurodevelopmental phenotype secondary to impaired mitochondrial calcium uniporter-mediated regulation of intracellular calcium homeostasis.

Keywords: MCU; brain; cognitive impairment; uniporter.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / genetics*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnostic imaging
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / genetics*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Leukoencephalopathies / genetics*
  • Leukoencephalopathies / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Muscle Spasticity / genetics*
  • Muscle Spasticity / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / genetics*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pedigree
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Siblings


  • Calcium Channels
  • MICU2 protein, human
  • Calcium