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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Jul-Aug;1777(7-8):564-78. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2008.03.008. Epub 2008 Mar 25.

Diseases caused by defects of mitochondrial carriers: a review.

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Department of Pharmaco-Biology, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Bari, Via E. Orabona 4, 70125 Bari, Italy.


A strikingly large number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations have been found to be the cause of respiratory chain and oxidative phosphorylation defects. These mitochondrial disorders were the first to be investigated after the small mtDNA had been sequenced in the 80s. Only recently numerous diseases resulting from mutations in nuclear genes encoding mitochondrial proteins have been characterized. Among these, nine are caused by defects of mitochondrial carriers, a family of nuclear-coded proteins that shuttle a variety of metabolites across the mitochondrial membrane. Mutations of mitochondrial carrier genes involved in mitochondrial functions other than oxidative phosphorylation are responsible for carnitine/acylcarnitine carrier deficiency, HHH syndrome, aspartate/glutamate isoform 2 deficiency, Amish microcephaly, and neonatal myoclonic epilepsy; these disorders are characterized by specific metabolic dysfunctions, depending on the physiological role of the affected carrier in intermediary metabolism. Defects of mitochondrial carriers that supply mitochondria with the substrates of oxidative phosphorylation, inorganic phosphate and ADP, are responsible for diseases characterized by defective energy production. Herein, all the mitochondrial carrier-associated diseases known to date are reviewed for the first time. Particular emphasis is given to the molecular basis and pathogenetic mechanism of these inherited disorders.

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