Severe mtDNA depletion and dependency on catabolic lipid metabolism in DGUOK knockout mice

Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Sep 1;28(17):2874-2884. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz103.


Deoxyguanosine kinase (DGUOK) provides guanosine and adenosine nucleotides for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication, and its deficiency in humans leads to hepatocerebral mtDNA depletion syndrome or to isolated hepatic disease. There are poor treatment options for DGUOK deficiency and the aim of this study was to generate a model for further studies of the disease that could reveal novel treatment strategies. We report a Dguok-deficient mouse strain that, similar to humans, is most severely affected in the liver. The Dguok complete knockout mice (Dguok-/-) were born normal, but began to lose weight at week 6. A change of fur color from black to blueish grey started at week 16 and was complete at week 20. The movements and behavior were indistinguishable compared to wild-type (wt) mice. A decrease of mtDNA copy number occurred in multiple tissues, with the liver being the most severely affected. The mtDNA-encoded protein cytochrome c oxidase was much lower in Dguok-/- liver tissue than in the wt, whereas the expression of the nuclear-encoded succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit A was unaffected. Histopathology showed severe alterations and immunohistochemistry showed signs of both oxidative stress and regeneration in Dguok-/- liver. The subcutaneous fat layer was undetectable in Dguok-/-, which, in addition to gene expression analysis, indicated an altered lipid metabolism. We conclude that Dguok has a major role for the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides for mtDNA replication particularly in the liver, similar to the human disorder. Our data also show a catabolic lipid metabolism in liver tissue of Dguok-/-.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genetic Loci
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Subcutaneous Fat / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Supplementary concepts

  • Deoxyguanosine Kinase Deficiency