Mutations in COX15 produce a defect in the mitochondrial heme biosynthetic pathway, causing early-onset fatal hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B4, Canada.
The American Journal of Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 10.99). 02/2003; 72(1):101-14. DOI: 10.1086/345489
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Deficiencies in the activity of cytochrome c oxidase (COX), the terminal enzyme in the respiratory chain, are a frequent cause of autosomal recessive mitochondrial disease in infants. These patients are clinically and genetically heterogeneous, and all defects so far identified in this group have been found in genes coding for accessory proteins that play important roles in the assembly of the COX holoenzyme complex. Many patients, however, remain without a molecular diagnosis. We have used a panel of retroviral vectors expressing human COX assembly factors in these patients to identify the molecular basis for the COX deficiency by functional complementation. Here we show that overexpression of COX15, a protein involved in the synthesis of heme A, the heme prosthetic group for COX, can functionally complement the isolated COX deficiency in fibroblasts from a patient with fatal, infantile hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Mutation analysis of COX15 in the patient identified a missense mutation (C700T) on one allele, changing a conserved arginine to tryptophan (R217W), and a splice-site mutation in intron 3 on the other allele (C447-3G), resulting in a deletion of exon 4. This splicing error introduces a frameshift and a premature stop codon, resulting in an unstable mRNA and, likely, a null allele. Mitochondrial heme A content was reduced in the patient's heart and fibroblast mitochondria, and levels of heme O were increased in the patient's heart. COX activity and the total amount of fully assembled enzyme were reduced by 50%-70% in patient fibroblasts. Expression of COX15 increased heme A content and rescued COX activity. These results suggest that reduced availability of heme A stalls the assembly of COX. This study establishes COX15 as an additional cause, along with SCO2, of fatal infantile, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy associated with isolated COX deficiency.


Available from: D. Moira Glerum, Jan 27, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated a subject with an isolated cytochrome c oxidase (COX) deficiency presenting with an unusual phenotype characterised by neuropathy, exercise intolerance, obesity, and short stature. Blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (BN-PAGE) analysis showed an almost complete lack of COX assembly in subject fibroblasts, consistent with the very low enzymatic activity, and pulse-labelling mitochondrial translation experiments showed a specific decrease in synthesis of the COX1 subunit, the core catalytic subunit that nucleates assembly of the holoenzyme. Whole exome sequencing identified compound heterozygous mutations (c.199dupC, c.215A>G) in COA3, a small inner membrane COX assembly factor, resulting in a pronounced decrease in the steady-state levels of COA3 protein. Retroviral expression of a wild-type COA3 cDNA completely rescued the COX assembly and mitochondrial translation defects, confirming the pathogenicity of the mutations, and resulted in increased steady-state levels of COX1 in control cells, demonstrating a role for COA3 in the stabilisation of this subunit. COA3 exists in an early COX assembly complex that contains COX1 and other COX assembly factors including COX14 (C12orf62), another single pass transmembrane protein that also plays a role in coupling COX1 synthesis with holoenzyme assembly. Immunoblot analysis showed that COX14 was undetectable in COA3 subject fibroblasts, and that COA3 was undetectable in fibroblasts from a COX14 subject, demonstrating the interdependence of these two COX assembly factors. The mild clinical course in this patient contrasts with nearly all other cases of severe COX assembly defects that are usually fatal early in life, and underscores the marked tissue-specific involvement in mitochondrial diseases. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to
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