Identification and functional prediction of mitochondrial complex III and IV mutations associated with glioblastoma

Rhiannon Lloyd, Kathleen Keatley, D. Timothy J. Littlewood, Bridgitte Meunier, William V. Holt, Qian An, Samantha C. Higgins, Stavros Polyzoidis, Katie F. Stephenson, Keyoumars Ashkan, Helen L. Fillmore, Geoff J. Pilkington, John E. Mcgeehan

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Background - Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor in adults, with a dismal prognosis. Treatment is hampered by GBM's unique biology, including differential cell response to therapy. Although several mitochondrial abnormalities have been identified, how mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations contribute to GBM biology and therapeutic response remains poorly described. We sought to determine the spectrum of functional complex III and IV mtDNA mutations in GBM.

Methods - The complete mitochondrial genomes of 10 GBM cell lines were obtained using next-generation sequencing and combined with another set obtained from 32 GBM tissues. Three-dimensional structural mapping and analysis of all the nonsynonymous mutations identified in complex III and IV proteins was then performed to investigate functional importance.

Results - Over 200 mutations were identified in the mtDNAs, including a significant proportion with very low mutational loads. Twenty-five were nonsynonymous mutations in complex III and IV, 9 of which were predicted to be functional and affect mitochondrial respiratory chain activity. Most of the functional candidates were GBM specific and not found in the general population, and 2 were present in the germ-line. Patient-specific maps reveal that 43% of tumors carry at least one functional candidate.

Conclusions - We reveal that the spectrum of GBM-associated mtDNA mutations is wider than previously thought, as well as novel structural-functional links between specific mtDNA mutations, abnormal mitochondria, and the biology of GBM. These results could provide tangible new prognostic indicators as well as targets with which to guide the development of patient-specific mitochondrially mediated chemotherapeutic approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-952
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Early online date2 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • RCUK
  • EPRC
  • EP/E500595/1


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