Mitochondrial “dysmorphology” in variant classification

Hanan E. Shamseldin, Amal Alhashem, Brahim Tabarki, Firdous Abdulwahab, Mais Hashem, Rachid Sougrat, Fowzan S. Alkuraya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitochondrial disorders are challenging to diagnose. Exome sequencing has greatly enhanced the diagnostic precision of these disorders although interpreting variants of uncertain significance (VUS) remains a formidable obstacle. Whether specific mitochondrial morphological changes can aid in the classification of these variants is unknown. Here, we describe two families (four patients), each with a VUS in a gene known to affect the morphology of mitochondria through a specific role in the fission–fusion balance. In the first, the missense variant in MFF, encoding a fission factor, was associated with impaired fission giving rise to a characteristically over-tubular appearance of mitochondria. In the second, the missense variant in DNAJA3, which has no listed OMIM phenotype, was associated with fragmented appearance of mitochondria consistent with its published deficiency states. In both instances, the highly specific phenotypes allowed us to upgrade the classification of the variants. Our results suggest that, in select cases, mitochondrial “dysmorphology” can be helpful in interpreting variants to reach a molecular diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHuman Genetics
StatePublished - Nov 8 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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