Severe X-Linked Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy Associated with a Mutation in Apoptosis-Inducing Factor

Division of Molecular Neurogenetics, The Carlo Besta Neurological Institute Foundation, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, via Temolo 4, 20126, Milan, Italy.
The American Journal of Human Genetics (Impact Factor: 10.99). 03/2010; 86(4):639-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.03.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We investigated two male infant patients who were given a diagnosis of progressive mitochondrial encephalomyopathy on the basis of clinical, biochemical, and morphological features. These patients were born from monozygotic twin sisters and unrelated fathers, suggesting an X-linked trait. Fibroblasts from both showed reduction of respiratory chain (RC) cIII and cIV, but not of cI activities. We found a disease-segregating mutation in the X-linked AIFM1 gene, encoding the Apoptosis-Inducing Factor (AIF) mitochondrion-associated 1 precursor that deletes arginine 201 (R201 del). Under normal conditions, mature AIF is a FAD-dependent NADH oxidase of unknown function and is targeted to the mitochondrial intermembrane space (this form is called AIF(mit)). Upon apoptogenic stimuli, a soluble form (AIF(sol)) is released by proteolytic cleavage and migrates to the nucleus, where it induces "parthanatos," i.e., caspase-independent fragmentation of chromosomal DNA. In vitro, the AIF(R201 del) mutation decreases stability of both AIF(mit) and AIF(sol) and increases the AIF(sol) DNA binding affinity, a prerequisite for nuclear apoptosis. In AIF(R201 del) fibroblasts, staurosporine-induced parthanatos was markedly increased, whereas re-expression of AIF(wt) induced recovery of RC activities. Numerous TUNEL-positive, caspase 3-negative nuclei were visualized in patient #1's muscle, again indicating markedly increased parthanatos in the AIF(R201 del) critical tissues. We conclude that AIF(R201 del) is an unstable mutant variant associated with increased parthanatos-linked cell death. Our data suggest a role for AIF in RC integrity and mtDNA maintenance, at least in some tissues. Interestingly, riboflavin supplementation was associated with prolonged improvement of patient #1's neurological conditions, as well as correction of RC defects in mutant fibroblasts, suggesting that stabilization of the FAD binding in AIF(mit) is beneficial.


Available from: Adamo Pio d'Adamo, May 30, 2015
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