Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2015 Aug 22;3:52. doi: 10.1186/s40478-015-0227-x.
Molecular pathomechanisms and cell-type-specific disease phenotypes of MELAS caused by mutant mitochondrial tRNA(Trp).
INTRODUCTION: 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.
RESULTS: 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.
CONCLUSIONS: 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.