L-Cysteine supplementation prevents liver transplantation in a patient with TRMU deficiency

Claudia Soler-Alfonso, Nishita Pillai, Erin Cooney, Krupa R. Mysore, Suzanne Boyer, Fernando Scaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Early recognition of rare mitochondrial respiratory chain defects has become readily available with the routine use of whole exome sequencing. Patients with oxidative phosphorylation defects present with a heterogenous phenotype, often rapidly progressive, and lethal. Clinicians aim for prompt identification of the specific molecular defect to provide timely management, decrease morbidity, and potentially improve survival rates. More recently, bi-allelic pathogenic variants in the TRMU gene responsible for encoding the mitochondrial tRNA-specific 2-thiouridylase were found in a syndrome characterized by infantile hepatopathy due to a mitochondrial translation defect (OMIM# 613070). This nuclear encoded enzyme catalyzes the addition of a sulfur-containing thiol group to the wobble position of mitochondrial specific tRNAs. TRMU deficiency is characterized by a combined respiratory chain deficiency without associated mitochondrial DNA depletion. This mitochondrial tRNA-modifying enzyme requires sulfur for its activity. Previous cellular models have suggested supplementation with cysteine, one of the sulfur containing amino acids, may play a role in increasing thiouridylation levels of mt-tRNAs by increasing sulfur availability for TRMU activity. Cysteine is considered a conditional essential amino acid due to limited availability in infants caused by immature cystathionine gamma-lyase (cystathionase) enzyme activity. The potential benefit of L-cysteine supplementation in TRMU deficiency has been previously proposed to ameliorate the severity and insidious course of the disease. Here we report the clinical, biochemical, and genetic findings of two siblings presenting with hepatopathy associated with hyperlactatemia due to bi-allelic pathogenic variants in TRMU. One patient died due to related complications. The other case was diagnosed prenatally allowing early implementation of L-cysteine supplementation, recovery of liver function, and avoidance of liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100453
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • TRMU
  • cysteine
  • hepatopathy
  • liver transplant
  • mitochondrial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'L-Cysteine supplementation prevents liver transplantation in a patient with TRMU deficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this