Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine
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Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are a class of highly conserved and ubiquitous prosthetic groups with unique chemical properties that allow the proteins that contain them, Fe-S proteins, to assist in various key biochemical pathways. Mutations in Fe-S proteins often disrupt Fe-S cluster assembly leading to a spectrum of severe disorders such as Friedreich’s ataxia or iron-sulfur cluster assembly enzyme (ISCU) myopathy. Herein, we describe infantile mitochondrial complex II/III deficiency, a novel autosomal recessive mitochondrial disease characterized by lactic acidemia, hypotonia, respiratory chain complex II and III deficiency, multisystem organ failure and abnormal mitochondria. Through autozygosity mapping, exome sequencing, in silico analyses, population studies and functional tests, we identified c.215G>A, p.Arg72Gln in NFS1 as the likely causative mutation. We describe the first disease in man likely caused by deficiency in NFS1, a cysteine desulfurase that is implicated in respiratory chain function and iron maintenance by initiating Fe-S cluster biosynthesis. Our results further demonstrate the importance of sufficient NFS1 expression in human physiology.