Mutations in TIMM50 compromise cell survival in OxPhos-dependent metabolic conditions

Aurelio Reyes, Laura Melchionda, Alberto Burlina, Alan J. Robinson, Daniele Ghezzi, Massimo Zeviani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


TIMM50 is an essential component of the TIM23 complex, the mitochondrial inner membrane machinery that imports cytosolic proteins containing a mitochondrial targeting presequence into the mitochondrial inner compartment. Whole exome sequencing (WES) identified compound heterozygous pathogenic mutations in TIMM50 in an infant patient with rapidly progressive, severe encephalopathy. Patient fibroblasts presented low levels of TIMM50 and other components of the TIM23 complex, lower mitochondrial membrane potential, and impaired TIM23-dependent protein import. As a consequence, steady-state levels of several components of mitochondrial respiratory chain were decreased, resulting in decreased respiration and increased ROS production. Growth of patient fibroblasts in galactose shifted energy production metabolism toward oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos), producing an apparent improvement in most of the above features but also increased apoptosis. Complementation of patient fibroblasts with TIMM50 improved or restored these features to control levels. Moreover, RNASEH1 and ISCU mutant fibroblasts only shared a few of these features with TIMM50 mutant fibroblasts. Our results indicate that mutations in TIMM50 cause multiple mitochondrial bioenergetic dysfunction and that functional TIMM50 is essential for cell survival in OxPhos-dependent conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8698
JournalEMBO Molecular Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • bioenergetic dysfunction
  • mitochondrial import
  • OxPhos
  • TIMM50

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine


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