Recessive deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency causes juvenile onset mitochondrial myopathy.
NADH:ubiquinone dehydrogenase (complex I) deficiency can be diagnosed from cultured skin fibroblasts using a number of methods, the most commonly used is a linked assay of rotenone-sensitive complex I + III activity (NADH:cytochrome c reductase). Because of interference from diaphorases, this method requires either the isolation of mitochondria (or at least partial purification). For a suitable mitochondrial preparation from skin fibroblasts, this requires the culturing of 4-20 individual 100mm tissue culture plates, depending on the purity of preparation required. These assays are therefore time-consuming, and do not assist in a rapid diagnosis. There is also no clear demarkation between the normal range of activity and the deficient range since mild mutations can produce only partial decreases in complex I activity. Equally, assaying patient cells that do not have a specific deficiency may prove to be time-wasting in the process of providing a quick, definitive clinical diagnosis. The lactate/pyruvate ratio of fibroblasts has been used to indicate the extent of respiratory chain involvement, as cells with a metabolic defect usually produce more lactate with an increased ratio from 25:1 to much higher values [Methods Enzymol. 264 (1996) 454]. This measurement may not always be conclusive, as the values can fluctuate as a result of culture medium, cell passage number, cell number and viability. In this report, we evaluate the use of pyruvate oxidation measurements from whole cells prepared from a single plate of cultured fibroblasts as an alternative to lactate/pyruvate ratios, or other methods both direct and indirect as indicators of the extent of respiratory chain involvement and the possibility of a defect within complex I. Whole cell 2-14C pyruvate oxidation appears to indicate the presence of a complex I defect in patients compared to normal controls more reliably than L/P ratios, but this has some puzzling exceptions.