Molecular diagnosis and characterization of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency

Scand J Clin Lab Invest Suppl. 1995:220:9-25.


Medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) deficiency is the most common defect in mitochondrial beta-oxidation in humans. It is an autosomal recessive disorder which usually presents in infancy. The disease manifests itself in periods of metabolic stress to the beta-oxidation system and may be fatal. Four years ago we identified a prevalent disease-causing mutation (G985) which causes an amino acid change (K304E) in the mature MCAD protein. Using a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based assay for this mutation we have demonstrated: 1. that the G985 mutation is present in 90% of the disease alleles from patients from all over the world; 2. that the allele frequency of G985 in the general population from most European countries is very high (the carrier frequency ranges from 1/68 to 1/333); 3. that MCAD deficiency is not, as has previously been suggested, related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Moreover, investigation by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of several families with diagnosed MCAD deficiency revealed that the G985 mutation is only present in chromosomes of a particular RFLP haplotype, suggesting a common chromosomal background for this mutation. The other mutations in the MCAD gene are distributed to all known MCAD RFLP haplotypes. Because 80% of the patients are homozygous for the G985 mutation, DNA based diagnosis of most patients is now fast and easy. In order to make DNA based diagnosis possible for the remaining 20% of patients we have set up PCR/solid-phase based semi-automated sequencing of all 12 exons of the MCAD gene. We have so far identified the mutation in 33 of 45 non-G985 homozygous families with verified MCAD deficiency, thereby bringing the number of known mutations in the MCAD gene up to 26. In order to investigate in detail the molecular defects of the mutant MCAD proteins we overexpressed them in COS-7 and in an E. coli based expression system with and without co-overexpression of the molecular chaperones GroES and GroEL. The expression studies revealed that the primary effect of all the identified mutations is on formation of correct enzyme structure, and does not directly affect the catalytically active regions of the enzyme. We find that our diagnostic set up, consisting of an initial testing by the G985 assay, followed by semi-automated sequencing of DNA from those patients who were indicated to be compound heterozygous, is an important improvement to the diagnosis of MCAD deficiency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases / deficiency*
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Diseases / enzymology
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Molecular Sequence Data


  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenase