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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2002 Oct;61(10):885-95.

Expression pattern of mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes in skeletal muscle of patients harboring the A3243G point mutation or large-scale deletions of mitochondrial DNA.

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Department of Epileptology, University Bonn Medical Center, Germany.


To assess the detailed expression pattern of mitochondrial-encoded proteins in skeletal muscle of patients with mitochondrial diseases we performed determinations of cytochrome content and enzyme activities of respiratory chain complexes of 12 patients harboring large-scale deletions and of 10 patients harboring the A3243G mutation. For large-scale deletions we observed a mutation gene dose-dependent linear decline of cytochrome aa3 content, cytochrome c oxidase (COX) activity, and complex I activity. The content of cytochromes b and the complex III activity was either not affected or only weakly affected by the deletion mutation and did not correlate to the degree of heteroplasmy. In contrast, in skeletal muscle harboring the A3243G mutation all investigated enzymes containing mitochondrial-encoded subunits were equally affected by the mutation, but we observed milder enzyme deficiencies at a comparable mutation gene dose. The results of single fiber analysis of selected biopsies supported these findings but revealed differences in the distribution of COX deficiency. Whereas predominantly type I fibers were affected in A3243G and deletion CPEO biopsies, we observed in MELAS and KSS biopsies higher quantities of COX-deficient type 2 fibers. Our findings indicate different pathomechanisms of deletion and A3243G mutations.

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