Mitochondrial complex IV deficiency caused by a novel frameshift variant in MT-CO2 associated with myopathy and perturbed acylcarnitine profile

Eur J Hum Genet. 2019 Feb;27(2):331-335. doi: 10.1038/s41431-018-0286-0. Epub 2018 Oct 12.


Mitochondrial myopathies are a heterogeneous group of disorders associated with a wide range of clinical phenotypes. We present a 16-year-old girl with a history of exercise intolerance since childhood. Acylcarnitine species suggestive of multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency were found in serum, however genetic analysis did not reveal variants in genes associated with this disorder. Biochemical analyses of skeletal muscle mitochondria revealed an isolated and extremely low activity of cytochrome c oxidase (COX). This finding was confirmed by enzyme histochemistry, which demonstrated an almost complete absence of fibers with normal COX activity. Whole-exome sequencing revealed a single base-pair deletion (m.8088delT) in MT-CO2, which encodes subunit 2 of COX, resulting in a premature stop codon. Restriction fragment length polymorphism-analysis confirmed mtDNA heteroplasmy with high mutant load in skeletal muscle, the only clinically affected tissue, but low levels in other investigated tissues. Single muscle fiber analysis showed segregation of the mutant genotype with respiratory chain dysfunction. Immuno-histochemical studies indicated that the truncating variant in COX2 has an inhibitory effect on the assembly of the COX holoenzyme.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carnitine / blood
  • Codon, Terminator
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Female
  • Frameshift Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / blood
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology
  • Muscular Diseases / blood
  • Muscular Diseases / genetics*
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology


  • Codon, Terminator
  • acylcarnitine
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Carnitine