LonP1 is crucial for maintaining mitochondrial proteostasis and mitigating cell stress. We identified a novel homozygous missense LONP1 variant, c.2282 C > T, (p.Pro761Leu), by whole-exome and Sanger sequencing in two siblings born to healthy consanguineous parents. Both siblings presented with stepwise regression during infancy, profound hypotonia and muscle weakness, severe intellectual disability and progressive cerebellar atrophy on brain imaging. Muscle biopsy revealed the absence of ragged-red fibers, however, scattered cytochrome c oxidase-negative staining and electron dense mitochondrial inclusions were observed. Primary cultured fibroblasts from the siblings showed normal levels of mtDNA and mitochondrial transcripts, and normal activities of oxidative phosphorylation complexes I through V. Interestingly, fibroblasts of both siblings showed glucose-repressed oxygen consumption compared to their mother, whereas galactose and palmitic acid utilization were similar. Notably, the siblings' fibroblasts had reduced pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity and elevated intracellular lactate:pyruvate ratios, whereas plasma ratios were normal. We demonstrated that in the siblings' fibroblasts, PDH dysfunction was caused by increased levels of the phosphorylated E1α subunit of PDH, which inhibits enzyme activity. Blocking E1α phosphorylation activated PDH and reduced intracellular lactate concentrations. In addition, overexpressing wild-Type LonP1 in the siblings' fibroblasts down-regulated phosphoE1α. Furthermore, in vitro studies demonstrated that purified LonP1-P761L failed to degrade phosphorylated E1α, in contrast to wild-Type LonP1. We propose a novel mechanism whereby homozygous expression of the LonP1-P761L variant leads to PDH deficiency and energy metabolism dysfunction, which promotes severe neurologic impairment and neurodegeneration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology