CoenzymeQ10-associated gene mutations in South African patients with respiratory chain deficiencies
CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10) functions as an electron carrier in mitochondria transporting electrons from CI and CII to CIII in the respiratory chain (RC) for normal cellular energy (ATP) production. Mutations in genes of a complicated and not yet well understood CoQ10 biosynthesis cause primary CoQ10 deficiency, a rare autosomal recessive mitochondrial disorder (MD) with diverse heterogeneous clinical phenotypes. Although the major function of CoQ10 is to serve as electron transfer molecule it furthermore possesses multiple metabolic functions which can result in secondary CoQ10 deficiency. Five main clinical phenotypes are associated with CoQ10 deficiency although distinct genotype-phenotype associations are still absent due to the limited molecular genetic diagnoses of most reported CoQ10 deficiency cases. A correlation was found between reduced levels of CoQ10 in muscle tissue and deficient CII + III RC enzyme activities in a South African patient cohort, the current indicators for potential CoQ10 deficiency. The aim of the study was therefore to identify nuclear-encoded mutations in genes associated with CoQ10 deficiencies in a cohort of South African patients diagnosed with respiratory chain deficiencies (RCDs). A high throughput target enrichment strategy was performed in order to identify previously reported and/or possible novel CoQ10-assosciated disease-causing variants using Ion Torrent next generation sequencing (NGS) and an in-house developed bioinformatics pipeline. The data obtained were compared to clinical presentations of the patients to interpret the results of the identified variants considered to be possibly pathogenic. Targeted genes associated with primary CoQ10- and secondary CoQ10 deficiency was successfully sequenced in 24 patients, identifying 16 possible disease-causing variants. Of these variants three compound heterozygous variants were identified in three patients in genes ETFDH, COQ6 and COQ7, which were considered to be pathogenic according to the available data provided. Further validation of these three variants supported its pathogenicity in at least two of these variants (ETFDH and COQ6). In conclusion: This study contributed to better understanding the aetiology of a South African cohort of patients diagnosed with MDs. It also highlighted the valuable role of NGS for such investigations, and furthermore identified areas in the biochemical and molecular diagnostic strategy where improvements could be made in the future.