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Am J Hum Genet. 1999 May;64(5):1330-9.

An mtDNA mutation in the initiation codon of the cytochrome C oxidase subunit II gene results in lower levels of the protein and a mitochondrial encephalomyopathy.

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Departments of Neurology, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom NE2 4HH.


A novel heteroplasmic 7587T-->C mutation in the mitochondrial genome which changes the initiation codon of the gene encoding cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (COX II), was found in a family with mitochondrial disease. This T-->C transition is predicted to change the initiating methionine to threonine. The mutation load was present at 67% in muscle from the index case and at 91% in muscle from the patient's clinically affected son. Muscle biopsy samples revealed isolated COX deficiency and mitochondrial proliferation. Single-muscle-fiber analysis revealed that the 7587C copy was at much higher load in COX-negative fibers than in COX-positive fibers. After microphotometric enzyme analysis, the mutation was shown to cause a decrease in COX activity when the mutant load was >55%-65%. In fibroblasts from one family member, which contained >95% mutated mtDNA, there was no detectable synthesis or any steady-state level of COX II. This new mutation constitutes a new mechanism by which mtDNA mutations can cause disease-defective initiation of translation.

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