Human mitochondrial disease exhibits large variation of clinical phenotypes, even in patients with the same causative gene defect. We illustrate this heterogeneity by confronting clinical and biochemical data of two patients with the uncommon pathogenic homoplasmic NC_012920.1(MT-ATP6):m.9035T>C variant in MT-ATP6. Patient 1 presented as a toddler with severe motor and speech delay and spastic ataxia without extra-neurologic involvement. Patient 2 presented in adolescence with ataxia and ophthalmoplegia without cognitive or motor impairment. Respiratory chain complex activities were normal in cultured skin fibroblasts from both patients when calculated as ratios over citrate synthase activity. Native gels found presence of subcomplexes of complex V in fibroblast and/or skeletal muscle. Bioenergetic measurements in fibroblasts from both patients detected reduced spare respiratory capacities and altered extracellular acidification rates, revealing a switch from mitochondrial respiration to glycolysis to uphold ATP production. Thus, in contrast to the differing disease presentation, biochemical evidence of mitochondrial deficiency turned out quite similar. We conclude that biochemical analysis remains a valuable tool to confirm the genetic diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, especially in patients with new gene variants or atypical clinical presentation.
Keywords: ATP-synthase; MT-ATP6; NC_012920.1(MT-ATP6):m.9035T>C; complex V deficiency; genotype-phenotype correlation; mitochondrial disorder; p.L170P.