SLC25A19 mutations cause Amish lethal microcephaly (MCPHA), which markedly retards brain development and leads to alpha-ketoglutaric aciduria. Previous data suggested that SLC25A19, also called DNC, is a mitochondrial deoxyribonucleotide transporter. We generated a knockout mouse model of Slc25a19. These animals had 100% prenatal lethality by embryonic day 12. Affected embryos at embryonic day 10.5 have a neural-tube closure defect with ruffling of the neural fold ridges, a yolk sac erythropoietic failure, and elevated alpha-ketoglutarate in the amniotic fluid. We found that these animals have normal mitochondrial ribo- and deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate levels, suggesting that transport of these molecules is not the primary role of SLC25A19. We identified thiamine pyrophosphate (ThPP) transport as a candidate function of SLC25A19 through homology searching and confirmed it by using transport assays of the recombinant reconstituted protein. The mitochondria of Slc25a19(-/-) and MCPHA cells have undetectable and markedly reduced ThPP content, respectively. The reduction of ThPP levels causes dysfunction of the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex, which explains the high levels of this organic acid in MCPHA and suggests that mitochondrial ThPP transport is important for CNS development.
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