Novel biallelic mutations in POLG gene: large deletion and missense variant associated with PEO

Neurol Sci. 2021 Oct;42(10):4271-4280. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05380-2. Epub 2021 Jun 29.


Background: Mitochondrial disorders are clinically heterogeneous diseases associated with impaired oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) activity. POLG, which encodes the DNA polymerase-γ (Polγ) catalytic subunit, is the most commonly mutated nuclear gene associated with mitochondrial disorders.

Methods: We carried out whole-exome sequencing (WES) to identify the gene associated with progressive external ophthalmoplegia (PEO). We then performed histopathological analyses, assessed mitochondrial biology, and executed functional studies to evaluate the potential pathogenicity of the identified genetic mutations.

Results: Novel biallelic POLG mutations, including a large deletion mutation (exons 7-21) and a missense variant c.1796C>T (p.Thr599Ile) were detected in the proband. Histopathological analysis of a biopsied muscle sample from this patient revealed the presence of approximately 20% COX-negative fibers. Bioinformatics analyses confirmed that the detected mutations were pathogenic. Furthermore, levels of mitochondrial complex I, II, and IV subunit protein expressions were found to be decreased in the proband, and marked impairment of mitochondrial respiration was evident in cells harboring these mutations.

Conclusion: This study expands the spectrum of known POLG variants associated with PEO and advances current understanding regarding the structural and functional impacts of these mutations.

Keywords: Large deletion; Missense variant; Mitochondrial disease; PEO; POLG.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Polymerase gamma / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Ophthalmoplegia, Chronic Progressive External* / genetics


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA Polymerase gamma
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • POLG protein, human