Molecular genetic investigations identify new clinical phenotypes associated with BCS1L-related mitochondrial disease.Hum Mol Genet. 2019 11 15; 28(22):3766-3776.HM
BCS1L encodes a homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae bcs1 protein, which has a known role in the assembly of Complex III of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Phenotypes reported in association with pathogenic BCS1L variants include growth retardation, aminoaciduria, cholestasis, iron overload, lactic acidosis and early death (GRACILE syndrome), and Björnstad syndrome, characterized by abnormal flattening and twisting of hair shafts (pili torti) and hearing problems. Here we describe two patients harbouring biallelic variants in BCS1L; the first with a heterozygous variant c.166C>T, p.(Arg56*) together with a novel heterozygous variant c.205C>T, p.(Arg69Cys) and a second patient with a novel homozygous c.325C>T, p.(Arg109Trp) variant. The two patients presented with different phenotypes; the first patient presented as an adult with aminoaciduria, seizures, bilateral sensorineural deafness and learning difficulties. The second patient was an infant who presented with a classical GRACILE syndrome leading to death at 4 months of age. A decrease in BCS1L protein levels was seen in both patients, and biochemical analysis of Complex III revealed normal respiratory chain enzyme activities in the muscle of both patients. A decrease in Complex III assembly was detected in the adult patient's muscle, whilst the paediatric patient displayed a combined mitochondrial respiratory chain defect in cultured fibroblasts. Yeast complementation studies indicate that the two missense variants, c.205C>T, p.(Arg69Cys) and c.325C>T, p.(Arg109Trp), impair the respiratory capacity of the cell. Together, these data support the pathogenicity of the novel BCS1L variants identified in our patients.