Characterising a homozygous two-exon deletion in UQCRH: comparing human and mouse phenotypes

EMBO Mol Med. 2021 Dec 7;13(12):e14397. doi: 10.15252/emmm.202114397. Epub 2021 Nov 8.


Mitochondrial disorders are clinically and genetically diverse, with isolated complex III (CIII) deficiency being relatively rare. Here, we describe two affected cousins, presenting with recurrent episodes of severe lactic acidosis, hyperammonaemia, hypoglycaemia and encephalopathy. Genetic investigations in both cases identified a homozygous deletion of exons 2 and 3 of UQCRH, which encodes a structural complex III (CIII) subunit. We generated a mouse model with the equivalent homozygous Uqcrh deletion (Uqcrh-/- ), which also presented with lactic acidosis and hyperammonaemia, but had a more severe, non-episodic phenotype, resulting in failure to thrive and early death. The biochemical phenotypes observed in patient and Uqcrh-/- mouse tissues were remarkably similar, displaying impaired CIII activity, decreased molecular weight of fully assembled holoenzyme and an increase of an unexpected large supercomplex (SXL ), comprising mostly of one complex I (CI) dimer and one CIII dimer. This phenotypic similarity along with lentiviral rescue experiments in patient fibroblasts verifies the pathogenicity of the shared genetic defect, demonstrating that the Uqcrh-/- mouse is a valuable model for future studies of human CIII deficiency.

Keywords: OXPHOS; UQCRH; complex III; mitochondrial disease; mouse model.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electron Transport Complex III
  • Exons
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Diseases* / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Sequence Deletion


  • UQCRH protein, human
  • Electron Transport Complex III