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Hum Mutat. 2001 Sep;18(3):169-89.

Mutation analysis in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation defects: Exemplified by acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiencies, with special focus on genotype-phenotype relationship.

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Research Unit for Molecular Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, Aarhus, Denmark.


Mutation analysis of metabolic disorders, such as the fatty acid oxidation defects, offers an additional, and often superior, tool for specific diagnosis compared to traditional enzymatic assays. With the advancement of the structural part of the Human Genome Project and the creation of mutation databases, procedures for convenient and reliable genetic analyses are being developed. The most straightforward application of mutation analysis is to specific diagnoses in suspected patients, particularly in the context of family studies and for prenatal/preimplantation analysis. In addition, from these practical uses emerges the possibility to study genotype-phenotype relationships and investigate the molecular pathogenesis resulting from specific mutations or groups of mutations. In the present review we summarize current knowledge regarding genotype-phenotype relationships in three disorders of mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation: very-long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (VLCAD, also ACADVL), medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD, also ACADM), and short-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (SCAD, also ACADS) deficiencies. On the basis of this knowledge we discuss current understanding of the structural implications of mutation type, as well as the modulating effect of the mitochondrial protein quality control systems, composed of molecular chaperones and intracellular proteases. We propose that the unraveling of the genetic and cellular determinants of the modulating effects of protein quality control systems may help to assess the balance between genetic and environmental factors in the clinical expression of a given mutation. The realization that the effect of the monogene, such as disease-causing mutations in the VLCAD, MCAD, and SCAD genes, may be modified by variations in other genes presages the need for profile analyses of additional genetic variations. The rapid development of mutation detection systems, such as the chip technologies, makes such profile analyses feasible. However, it remains to be seen to what extent mutation analysis will be used for diagnosis of fatty acid oxidation defects and other metabolic disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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