Short-chain enoyl-CoA hydratase (ECHS1) is a multifunctional mitochondrial matrix enzyme that is involved in the oxidation of fatty acids and essential amino acids such as valine. Here, we describe the broad phenotypic spectrum and pathobiochemistry of individuals with autosomal-recessive ECHS1 deficiency.
Here, we report 10 unrelated individuals, identified by exome sequencing, who carry compound heterozygous or homozygous ECHS1 mutations and present with a combination of (Leigh-like) mitochondrial encephalopathy, deafness, epilepsy, optic nerve atrophy, and cardiomyopathy. This work confirms ECHS1 mutations as a cause of mitochondrial disease, and defines the broad phenotypic spectrum of this new disorder which ranges from fatal neonatal courses to survival into adulthood.
Patients showed a heterogeneous phenotype with disease onset in the first year of life and course ranging from neonatal death to survival into adulthood. The most prominent clinical features were encephalopathy (10/10), deafness (9/9), epilepsy (6/9), optic atrophy (6/10), and cardiomyopathy (4/10). Serum lactate was elevated and brain magnetic resonance imaging showed white matter changes or a Leigh-like pattern resembling disorders of mitochondrial energy metabolism. Analysis of patients’ fibroblast cell lines (6/10) provided further evidence for the pathogenicity of the respective mutations by showing reduced ECHS1 protein levels and reduced 2-enoyl-CoA hydratase activity. While serum acylcarnitine profiles were largely normal, in vitro palmitate loading of patient fibroblasts revealed increased butyrylcarnitine, unmasking the functional defect in mitochondrial β-oxidation of short-chain fatty acids. Urinary excretion of 2-methyl-2,3-dihydroxybutyrate – a potential derivative of acryloyl-CoA in the valine catabolic pathway – was significantly increased, indicating impaired valine oxidation.In conclusion, we define the phenotypic spectrum of a new syndrome caused by ECHS1 deficiency. We speculate that both the β-oxidation defect and the block in l-valine metabolism, with accumulation of toxic methacrylyl-CoA and acryloyl-CoA, contribute to the disorder that may be amenable to metabolic treatment approaches.
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