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Deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency

Deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency

Reviewed December 2009

What is deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

Deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency is an inherited disorder that can cause liver disease and neurological problems. Researchers have described two forms of this disorder. The majority of affected individuals have the more severe form, which is called hepatocerebral because of the serious problems it causes in the liver and brain.

Newborns with the hepatocerebral form of deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency may have a buildup of lactic acid in the body (lactic acidosis) within the first few days after birth. They may also have weakness, behavior changes such as poor feeding and decreased activity, and vomiting. Affected newborns sometimes have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) as a result of liver dysfunction. During the first few weeks of life they begin showing other signs of liver disease which may result in liver failure. They also develop progressive neurological problems including very weak muscle tone (severe hypotonia), abnormal eye movements (nystagmus) and the loss of skills they had previously acquired (developmental regression). Children with this form of the disorder usually do not survive past the age of 2 years.

Some individuals with deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency have a milder form of the disorder without severe neurological problems. Liver disease is the primary symptom of this form of the disorder, generally becoming evident during infancy or childhood. Occasionally it first appears after an illness such as a viral infection. Affected individuals may also develop kidney problems. Mild hypotonia is the only neurological effect associated with this form of the disorder.

How common is deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

The prevalence of deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency is unknown. Approximately 100 affected individuals have been identified.

What genes are related to deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

The DGUOK gene provides instructions for making the enzyme deoxyguanosine kinase. This enzyme plays a critical role in mitochondria, which are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use. Mitochondria each contain a small amount of DNA, known as mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA, which is essential for the normal function of these structures. Deoxyguanosine kinase is involved in producing and maintaining the building blocks of mitochondrial DNA.

Mutations in the DGUOK gene reduce or eliminate the activity of the deoxyguanosine kinase enzyme. Reduced enzyme activity leads to problems with the production and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA. A reduction in the amount of mitochondrial DNA (known as mitochondrial DNA depletion) impairs mitochondrial function in many of the body's cells and tissues. These problems lead to the neurological and liver dysfunction associated with deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency.

Read more about the DGUOK gene.

How do people inherit deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

Deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. In most cases, the parents of an individual with this condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.

Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

These resources address the diagnosis or management of deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency and may include treatment providers.

You might also find information on the diagnosis or management of deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency in Educational resources and Patient support.

General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.

To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

You may find the following resources about deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

  • DGUOK-related mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome
  • hepatocerebral mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome
  • mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, hepatocerebral form

For more information about naming genetic conditions, see the Genetics Home Reference Condition Naming Guidelines and How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.

What if I still have specific questions about deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?

What glossary definitions help with understanding deoxyguanosine kinase deficiency?

acidosis ; autosomal ; autosomal recessive ; cell ; deficiency ; depletion ; DNA ; enzyme ; gene ; hypoglycemia ; hypotonia ; infection ; inherited ; kidney ; kinase ; lactic acid ; lactic acidosis ; liver failure ; mitochondria ; muscle tone ; neurological ; nystagmus ; prevalence ; recessive ; regression ; symptom ; syndrome

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (13 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: December 2009
Published: February 8, 2016