Mutations in the lipoyltransferaseLIPT1gene cause a fatal disease associated with a specific lipoylation defect of the 2-ketoacid dehydrogenase complexes

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Cofactor disorders of mitochondrial energy metabolism are a heterogeneous group of diseases with a wide variety of clinical symptoms, particular metabolic profiles and variable enzymatic defects. Mutations inNFU1,BOLA3,LIASandIBA57have been identified in patients with deficient lipoic acid-dependent enzymatic activities and defects in the assembly and activity of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes. Here, we report a patient with an early onset fatal lactic acidosis presenting a biochemical phenotype compatible with a combined defect of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDHC) and 2-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (2-KGDH) activities, which suggested a deficiency in lipoic acid metabolism. Immunostaining analysis showed that lipoylated E2-PDH and E2-KGDH were extremely reduced in this patient. However, the absence of glycine elevation, the normal activity of the glycine cleavage system and the normal lipoylation of the H protein suggested a defect of lipoic acid transfer to particular proteins rather than a general impairment of lipoic acid biosynthesis as the potential cause of the disease. By analogy with yeast metabolism, we postulatedLIPT1as the altered candidate gene causing the disease. Sequence analysis of the humanLIPT1identified two heterozygous missense mutations (c.212C>T and c.292C>G), segregating in different alleles. Functional complementation experiments in patient's fibroblasts demonstrated that these mutations are disease-causing and that LIPT1 protein is required for lipoylation and activation of 2-ketoacid dehydrogenases in humans. These findings expand the spectrum of genetic defects associated with lipoic acid metabolism and provide the first evidence of a lipoic acid transfer defect in humans.

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