Human genetics

Mutated PET117 causes complex IV deficiency and is associated with neurodevelopmental regression and medulla oblongata lesions.

PMID 28386624


The genetic basis of the many progressive, multi systemic, mitochondrial diseases that cause a lack of cellular ATP production is heterogeneous, with defects found both in the mitochondrial genome as well as in the nuclear genome. Many different mutations have been found in the genes encoding subunits of the enzyme complexes of the oxidative phosphorylation system. In addition, mutations in genes encoding proteins involved in the assembly of these complexes are known to cause mitochondrial disorders. Here we describe two sisters with a mitochondrial disease characterized by lesions in the medulla oblongata, as demonstrated by brain magnetic resonance imaging, and an isolated complex IV deficiency and reduced levels of individual complex IV subunits. Whole exome sequencing revealed a homozygous nonsense mutation resulting in a premature stop codon in the gene encoding Pet117, a small protein that has previously been predicted to be a complex IV assembly factor. PET117 has not been identified as a mitochondrial disease gene before. Lentiviral complementation of patient fibroblasts with wild-type PET117 restored the complex IV deficiency, proving that the gene defect is responsible for the complex IV deficiency in the patients, and indicating a pivotal role of this protein in the proper functioning of complex IV. Although previous studies had suggested a possible role of this protein in the insertion of copper into complex IV, studies in patient fibroblasts could not confirm this. This case presentation thus implicates mutations in PET117 as a novel cause of mitochondrial disease.