Disclosing the functional changes of two genetic alterations in a patient with Chronic Progressive External Ophthalmoplegia: Report of the novel mtDNA m.7486G>A variant

Neuromuscul Disord. 2018 Apr;28(4):350-360. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2017.11.006. Epub 2017 Nov 23.


Chronic Progressive External Ophthalmoplegia (CPEO) is characterized by ptosis and ophthalmoplegia and is usually caused by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions or mt-tRNA mutations. The aim of the present work was to clarify the genetic defect in a patient presenting with CPEO and elucidate the underlying pathogenic mechanism. This 62-year-old female first developed ptosis of the right eye at the age of 12 and subsequently the left eye at 45 years, and was found to have external ophthalmoplegia at the age of 55 years. Histopathological abnormalities were detected in the patient's muscle, including ragged-red fibres, a mosaic pattern of COX-deficient muscle fibres and combined deficiency of respiratory chain complexes I and IV. Genetic investigation revealed the "common deletion" in the patient's muscle and fibroblasts. Moreover, a novel, heteroplasmic mt-tRNASer(UCN) variant (m.7486G>A) in the anticodon loop was detected in muscle homogenate (50%), fibroblasts (11%) and blood (4%). Single-fibre analysis showed segregation with COX-deficient fibres for both genetic alterations. Assembly defects of mtDNA-encoded complexes were demonstrated in fibroblasts. Functional analyses showed significant bioenergetic dysfunction, reduction in respiration rate and ATP production and mitochondrial depolarization. Multilamellar bodies were detected by electron microscopy, suggesting disturbance in autophagy. In conclusion, we report a CPEO patient with two possible genetic origins, both segregating with biochemical and histochemical defect. The "common mtDNA deletion" is the most likely cause, yet the potential pathogenic effect of a novel mt-tRNASer(UCN) variant cannot be fully excluded.

Keywords: Bioenergetic dysfunction; CPEO; Translation defect; mt-tRNA variant (m.7486G>A); mtDNA common deletion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Sequence Deletion / genetics*
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase