The mitochondrial (mt) DNA depletion syndromes (MDDS) are genetic disorders characterized by a severe, tissue-specific decrease of mtDNA copy number, leading to organ failure. There are two main clinical presentations: myopathic (OMIM 609560) and hepatocerebral1 (OMIM 251880). Known mutant genes, including TK2 (ref. 2), SUCLA2 (ref. 3), DGUOK (ref. 4) and POLG5,6, account for only a fraction of MDDS cases7. We found a new locus for hepatocerebral MDDS on chromosome 2p21-23 and prioritized the genes on this locus using a new integrative genomics strategy. One of the top-scoring candidates was the human ortholog of the mouse kidney disease gene Mpv17 (ref. 8). We found disease-segregating mutations in three families with hepatocerebral MDDS and demonstrated that, contrary to the alleged peroxisomal localization of the MPV17 gene product9, MPV17 is a mitochondrial inner membrane protein, and its absence or malfunction causes oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) failure and mtDNA depletion, not only in affected individuals but also in Mpv17-/- mice.
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