CODAS Syndrome Is Associated with Mutations of LONP1, Encoding Mitochondrial AAA+ Lon Protease

CODAS syndrome is a multi-system developmental disorder characterized by cerebral, ocular, dental, auricular, and skeletal anomalies. Using whole-exome and Sanger sequencing, we identified four LONP1 mutations inherited as homozygous or compound-heterozygous combinations among ten individuals with CODAS syndrome. The individuals come from three different ancestral backgrounds (AmishSwiss from United States, n ¼ 8; Mennonite-German from Canada, n ¼ 1; mixed European from Canada, n ¼ 1). LONP1 encodes Lon protease, a homohexameric enzyme that mediates protein quality control, respiratory-complex assembly, gene expression, and stress responses in mitochondria. All four pathogenic amino acid substitutions cluster within the AAAþ domain at residues near the ATP-binding pocket. In biochemical assays, pathogenic Lon proteins show substrate-specific defects in ATP-dependent proteolysis. When expressed recombinantly in cells, all altered Lon proteins localize to mitochondria. The Old Order Amish Lon variant (LONP1 c.2161C>G[p.Arg721Gly]) homo-oligomerizes poorly in vitro. Lymphoblastoid cell lines generated from affected children have (1) swollen mitochondria with electron-dense inclusions and abnormal inner-membrane morphology; (2) aggregated MT-CO2, the mtDNA-encoded subunit II of cytochrome c oxidase; and (3) reduced spare respiratory capacity, leading to impaired mitochondrial proteostasis and function. CODAS syndrome is a distinct, autosomal-recessive, developmental disorder associated with dysfunction of the mitochondrial Lon protease.