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    Numerous pathogenic mutations responsible for mitochondrial diseases have been identified in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)-encoded tRNA genes. In most cases, however, the detailed molecular pathomechanisms and cellular pathophysiology of these mtDNA mutations -how such genetic defects determine the variation and the severity of clinical symptoms in affected individuals- remain unclear. To investigate the molecular pathomechanisms and to realize in vitro recapitulation of mitochondrial diseases, intracellular mutant mtDNA proportions must always be considered. We found a disease-causative mutation, m.5541C>T heteroplasmy in MT-TW gene, in a patient exhibiting mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) with multiple organ involvement. We identified the intrinsic molecular pathomechanisms of m.5541C>T. This mutation firstly disturbed the translation machinery of mitochondrial tRNA(Trp) and induced mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction, followed by severely injured mitochondrial homeostasis. We also demonstrated cell-type-specific disease phenotypes using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) carrying ~100 % mutant m.5541C>T. Significant loss of terminally differentiated iPSC-derived neurons, but not their stem/progenitor cells, was detected most likely due to serious mitochondrial dysfunction triggered by m.5541C>T; in contrast, m.5541C>T did not apparently affect skeletal muscle development. Our iPSC-based disease models would be widely available for understanding the "definite" genotype-phenotype relationship of affected tissues and organs in various mitochondrial diseases caused by heteroplasmic mtDNA mutations, as well as for further drug discovery applications.


    Hideyuki Hatakeyama, Ayako Katayama, Hirofumi Komaki, Ichizo Nishino, Yu-Ichi Goto. Molecular pathomechanisms and cell-type-specific disease phenotypes of MELAS caused by mutant mitochondrial tRNA(Trp). Acta neuropathologica communications. 2015;3:52

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    PMID: 26297375

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