We report an Italian family in which the T-to-C point mutation at nucleotide 9176 of the mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate synthetase (mtATPase) 6 gene is associated with an early-onset fulminant form of Leigh syndrome and with sudden unexpected death in two siblings, respectively. Polymerase chain reaction single-strand conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) analysis and direct sequencing revealed that the mutation was homoplasmic in mitochondrial DNA of the proband. The T9176C mutation changes a highly conserved leucine to a proline in subunit 6 of the mtATPase gene and is maternally inherited, but the maternal relatives are asymptomatic. This point mutation was initially described in two brothers with bilateral striatal necrosis, a milder variant of Leigh syndrome.
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