Solving a 50 year mystery of a missing OPA1 mutation: More insights from the first family diagnosed with autosomal dominant optic atrophy

Article (PDF Available)inMolecular Neurodegeneration 5(1):25 · June 2010with50 Reads
DOI: 10.1186/1750-1326-5-25 · Source: PubMed
Up to the 1950s, there was an ongoing debate about the diversity of hereditary optic neuropathies, in particular as to whether all inherited optic atrophies can be ascribed to Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) or represent different disease entities. In 1954 W. Jaeger published a detailed clinical and genealogical investigation of a large family with explicit autosomal dominant segregation of optic atrophy thus proving the existence of a discrete disease different from LHON, which is nowadays known as autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA). Since the year 2000 ADOA is associated with genomic mutations in the OPA1 gene, which codes for a protein that is imported into mitochondria where it is required for mitochondrial fusion. Interestingly enough, the underlying mutation in this family has not been identified since then. We have reinvestigated this family with the aim to identify the mutation and to further clarify the underlying pathomechanism. Patients showed a classical non-syndromic ADOA. The long term deterioration in vision in the two teenagers examined 50 years later is of particular note 5/20 to 6/120. Multiplex ligation probe amplification revealed a duplication of the OPA1 exons 7-9 which was confirmed by long distance PCR and cDNA analysis, resulting in an in-frame duplication of 102 amino acids. Segregation was verified in 53 available members of the updated pedigree and a penetrance of 88% was calculated. Fibroblast cultures from skin biopsies were established to assess the mitochondrial network integrity and to qualitatively and quantitatively study the consequences of the mutation on transcript and protein level. Fibroblast cultures demonstrated a fragmented mitochondrial network. Processing of the OPA1 protein was altered. There was no correlation of the OPA1 transcript levels and the OPA1 protein levels in the fibroblasts. Intriguingly an overall decrease of mitochondrial proteins was observed in patients' fibroblasts, while the OPA1 transcript levels were elevated. The thorough study of this family provides a detailed clinical picture accompanied by a molecular investigation of patients' fibroblasts. Our data show a classic OPA1-associated non-syndromic ADOA segregating in this family. Cell biological findings suggest that OPA1 is regulated by post-translational mechanisms and we would like to hypothesize that loss of OPA1 function might lead to impaired mitochondrial quality control. With the clinical, genetic and cell biological characterisation of a family described already more than 50 years ago, we span more than half a century of research in optic neuropathies.

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    • "The ocular phenotype is variable and not all family-members that carry pathogenic mutations in DOA associated genes present visual impairments19202123242526 . The probability for mutation carriers to develop symptoms during lifetime has been estimated at 88% [26] . On the other hand, heterozygous OPA1 mutations are associated with a broad range of extra-ocular symptoms, sometimes at the sub-clinical level. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial quality control is fundamental to all neurodegenerative diseases, including the most prominent ones, Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinsonism. It is accomplished by mitochondrial network dynamics -- continuous fission and fusion of mitochondria. Mitochondrial fission is facilitated by DRP1, while MFN1 and MFN2 on the mitochondrial outer membrane and OPA1 on the mitochondrial inner membrane are essential for mitochondrial fusion. Mitochondrial network dynamics are regulated in highly sophisticated ways by various different posttranslational modifications, such as phosphorylation, ubiquitination, and proteolytic processing of their key-proteins. By this, mitochondria process a wide range of different intracellular and extracellular parameters in order to adapt mitochondrial function to actual energetic and metabolic demands of the host cell, attenuate mitochondrial damage, recycle dysfunctional mitochondria via the mitochondrial autophagy pathway, or arrange for the recycling of the complete host cell by apoptosis. Most of the genes coding for proteins involved in this process have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Mutations in one of these genes are associated with a neurodegenerative disease that originally was described to affect retinal ganglion cells. Since more and more evidence shows that other cell types are affected as well, we would like to discuss the pathology of dominant optic atrophy, which is caused by heterozygous sequence variants in OPA1, in the light of the current view on OPA1 protein function in mitochondrial quality control, in particular on its function in mitochondrial fusion and cytochrome C release. We think OPA1 is a good example to understand the molecular basis for mitochondrial network dynamics.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013
    • "If not, the possible consequence of the mutation on OPA1 transcript and protein integrity should be analyzed in silico, and by assessing the expression of the mutated allele by RT-PCR amplification and sequencing. If no significant mutation is found in OPA1, then the presence of a deletion in the gene can be tested with the Multiplex Ligation Probe Amplification methodology848586 . Otherwise careful reconsideration of the anamnesis might orientate to test either OPA3 gene or the full length mitochondrial genome. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Definition of the disease Dominant Optic Atrophy (DOA) is a neuro-ophthalmic condition characterized by a bilateral degeneration of the optic nerves, causing insidious visual loss, typically starting during the first decade of life. The disease affects primary the retinal ganglion cells (RGC) and their axons forming the optic nerve, which transfer the visual information from the photoreceptors to the lateral geniculus in the brain. The prevalence of the disease varies from 1/10000 in Denmark due to a founder effect, to 1/30000 in the rest of the world. Clinical description DOA patients usually suffer of moderate visual loss, associated with central or paracentral visual field deficits and color vision defects. The severity of the disease is highly variable, the visual acuity ranging from normal to legal blindness. The ophthalmic examination discloses on fundoscopy isolated optic disc pallor or atrophy, related to the RGC death. About 20% of DOA patients harbour extraocular multi-systemic features, including neurosensory hearing loss, or less commonly chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia, myopathy, peripheral neuropathy, multiple sclerosis-like illness, spastic paraplegia or cataracts. Two genes (OPA1, OPA3) encoding inner mitochondrial membrane proteins and three loci (OPA4, OPA5, OPA8) are currently known for DOA. Additional loci and genes (OPA2, OPA6 and OPA7) are responsible for X-linked or recessive optic atrophy. All OPA genes yet identified encode mitochondrial proteins embedded in the inner membrane and ubiquitously expressed, as are the proteins mutated in the Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. OPA1 mutations affect mitochondrial fusion, energy metabolism, control of apoptosis, calcium clearance and maintenance of mitochondrial genome integrity. OPA3 mutations only affect the energy metabolism and the control of apoptosis. Patients are usually diagnosed during their early childhood, because of bilateral, mild, otherwise unexplained visual loss related to optic discs pallor or atrophy, and typically occurring in the context of a family history of DOA. Optical Coherence Tomography further discloses non-specific thinning of retinal nerve fiber layer, but a normal morphology of the photoreceptors layers. Abnormal visual evoked potentials and pattern ERG may also reflect the dysfunction of the RGCs and their axons. Molecular diagnosis is provided by the identification of a mutation in the OPA1 gene (75% of DOA patients) or in the OPA3 gene (1% of patients). Visual loss in DOA may progress during puberty until adulthood, with very slow subsequent chronic progression in most of the cases. On the opposite, in DOA patients with associated extra-ocular features, the visual loss may be more severe over time. To date, there is no preventative or curative treatment in DOA; severely visually impaired patients may benefit from low vision aids. Genetic counseling is commonly offered and patients are advised to avoid alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as the use of medications that may interfere with mitochondrial metabolism. Gene and pharmacological therapies for DOA are currently under investigation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012
    • "Our studies suggest that genetic modifiers influence the course of RGC loss in OPA1-linked ADOA. The mitochondrial haplogroup has been excluded as a disease modifier in ADOA [32,33]. Our pedigrees also argue against mtDNA haplogroup having a strong influence on phenotype, since we show strong discordance within sibships that share haplotypes. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy (ADOA) is the most common inherited optic atrophy where vision impairment results from specific loss of retinal ganglion cells of the optic nerve. Around 60% of ADOA cases are linked to mutations in the OPA1 gene. OPA1 is a fission-fusion protein involved in mitochondrial inner membrane remodelling. ADOA presents with marked variation in clinical phenotype and varying degrees of vision loss, even among siblings carrying identical mutations in OPA1. To determine whether the degree of vision loss is associated with the level of mitochondrial impairment, we examined mitochondrial function in lymphoblast cell lines obtained from six large Australian OPA1-linked ADOA pedigrees. Comparing patients with severe vision loss (visual acuity [VA]<6/36) and patients with relatively preserved vision (VA>6/9) a clear defect in mitochondrial ATP synthesis and reduced respiration rates were observed in patients with poor vision. In addition, oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzymology in ADOA patients with normal vision revealed increased complex II+III activity and levels of complex IV protein. These data suggest that OPA1 deficiency impairs OXPHOS efficiency, but compensation through increases in the distal complexes of the respiratory chain may preserve mitochondrial ATP production in patients who maintain normal vision. Identification of genetic variants that enable this response may provide novel therapeutic insights into OXPHOS compensation for preventing vision loss in optic neuropathies.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011
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