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Leigh syndrome caused by mutations in MTFMT is associated with a better prognosis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hannah Hayhurst, Charlotte Alston, Dr Kyle Thompson, Dr Langping He, Sila Hopton, Professor Grainne Gorman, Professor Bobby McFarlandORCiD, Professor Robert Taylor, Dr Yi NgORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2019 The Authors. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc on behalf of American Neurological Association. Objectives: Mitochondrial methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase (MTFMT) is required for the initiation of translation and elongation of mitochondrial protein synthesis. Pathogenic variants in MTFMT have been associated with Leigh syndrome (LS) and mitochondrial multiple respiratory chain deficiencies. We sought to elucidate the spectrum of clinical, neuroradiological and molecular genetic findings of patients with bi-allelic pathogenic variants in MTFMT. Methods: Retrospective cohort study combining new cases and previously published cases. Results: Thirty-eight patients with pathogenic variants in MTFMT were identified, including eight new cases. The median age of presentation was 14 months (range: birth to 17 years, interquartile range [IQR] 4.5 years), with developmental delay and motor symptoms being the most frequent initial manifestation. Twenty-nine percent of the patients survived into adulthood. MRI headings in MTFMT pathogenic variants included symmetrical basal ganglia changes (62%), periventricular and subcortical white matter abnormalities (55%), and brainstem lesions (48%). Isolated complex I and combined respiratory chain deficiencies were identified in 31% and 59% of the cases, respectively. Reduction of the mitochondrial complex I and complex IV subunits was identified in the fibroblasts (13/13). Sixteen pathogenic variants were identified, of which c.626C>T was the most common. Seventy-four percent of the patients were alive at their last clinical review (median 6.8 years, range: 14 months to 31 years, IQR 14.5 years). Interpretation: Patients that harbour pathogenic variants in MTFMT have a milder clinical phenotype and disease progression compared to LS caused by other nuclear defects. Fibroblasts may preclude the need for muscle biopsy, to prove causality of any novel variant.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hayhurst H, de Coo IFM, Piekutowska-Abramczuk D, Alston CL, Sharma S, Thompson K, Rius R, He L, Hopton S, Ploski R, Ciara E, Lake NJ, Compton AG, Delatycki MB, Verrips A, Bonnen PE, Jones SA, Morris AA, Shakespeare D, Christodoulou J, Wesol-Kucharska D, Rokicki D, Smeets HJM, Pronicka E, Thorburn DR, Gorman GS, McFarland R, Taylor RW, Ng YS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology

Year: 2019

Volume: 6

Issue: 3

Pages: 515-524

Online publication date: 17/02/2019

Acceptance date: 26/12/2018

Date deposited: 27/03/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2328-9503

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1002/acn3.725


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council