Early-onset cataracts, spastic paraparesis, and ataxia caused by a novel mitochondrial tRNAGlu (MT-TE) gene mutation causing severe complex I deficiency: a clinical, molecular, and neuropathologic study.

Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology

PubMedID: 23334599

Lax NZ, Gnanapavan S, Dowson SJ, Alston CL, He L, Polvikoski TM, Jaros E, O'Donovan DG, Yarham JW, Turnbull DM, Dean AF, Taylor RW. Early-onset cataracts, spastic paraparesis, and ataxia caused by a novel mitochondrial tRNAGlu (MT-TE) gene mutation causing severe complex I deficiency: a clinical, molecular, and neuropathologic study. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2013;72(2):164-75.
Mitochondrial respiratory chain disease is associated with a spectrum of clinical presentations and considerable genetic heterogeneity. Here we report molecular genetic and neuropathologic findings from an adult with an unusual manifestation of mitochondrial DNA disease. Clinical features included early-onset cataracts, ataxia, and progressive paraparesis, with sequencing revealing the presence of a novel de novo m.14685G>A mitochondrial tRNA(Glu) (MT-TE) gene mutation. Muscle biopsy showed that 13% and 34% of muscle fibers lacked cytochrome c oxidase activity and complex I subunit expression, respectively. Biochemical studies confirmed a marked decrease in complex I activity. Neuropathologic investigation revealed a large cystic lesion affecting the left putamen, caudate nucleus, and internal capsule, with evidence of marked microvacuolation, neuron loss, perivascular lacunae, and blood vessel mineralization. The internal capsule showed focal axonal loss, whereas brainstem and spinal cord showed descending anterograde degeneration in medullary pyramids and corticospinal tracts. In agreement with muscle biopsy findings, reduced complex I immunoreactivity was detected in the remaining neuronal populations, particularly in the basal ganglia and cerebellum, correlating with the neurologic dysfunction exhibited by the patient. This study emphasizes the importance of molecular genetic and postmortem neuropathologic analyses for furthering our understanding of underlying mechanisms of mitochondrial disorders.