Autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) is a neuro-ophthalmic condition characterized by bilateral degeneration of the optic nerves. Although heterozygous mutations in OPA1 represent the most common genetic cause of ADOA, a significant number of cases remain undiagnosed. Here, we describe a family with a strong ADOA history with most family members spanning three generation having childhood onset of visual symptoms. The proband, in addition to optic atrophy, had neurological symptoms consistent with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Clinical exome analysis detected a novel mutation in the AFG3L2 gene (NM_006796.2:c.1010G > A; p.G337E), which segregated with optic atrophy in family members. AFG3L2 is a metalloprotease of the AAA subfamily which exerts quality control in the inner mitochondrial membrane. Interestingly, the identified mutation localizes close to the AAA domain of AFG3L2, while those localized in the proteolytic domain cause dominant spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 (SCA28) or recessive spastic ataxia with epilepsy (SPAX5). Functional studies in patient fibroblasts demonstrate that the p.G337E AFG3L2 mutation strongly destabilizes the long isoforms of OPA1 via OMA hyper-activation and leads to mitochondrial fragmentation, thus explaining the family phenotype. This study widens the clinical spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases caused by AFG3L2 mutations, which shall be considered as genetic cause of ADOA.
- Mitochondrial fragmentation
- Optic atrophy