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Non-random tissue distribution of mutant mtDNA

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Patrick Chinnery, Professor Mark Walker, Professor Robert Taylor, Professor Robert Lightowlers, Professor Laurence Bindoff, Emeritus Professor Doug Turnbull


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Heteroplasmic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) defects are an important cause of inherited human disease. On a cellular level, the percentage of mutant mtDNA is the principal factor behind the expression of the genetic defect. Marked variation in the level of mutant mtDNA among tissues is thought to be responsible for the diverse clinical phenotypes associated with the same pathogenic mtDNA mutation. This study was designed to determine whether the percentage level of a pathogenic mtDNA molecule is determined by a purely random process. The tissue distribution of the A3243G MELAS point mutation was analyzed in five individuals who were members of a family with maternally inherited diabetes and deafness. The level of mutant mtDNA was measured in four tissues in three individuals and three tissues in two individuals. The highest level of mutant mtDNA occurred in skeletal muscle, followed by hair follicles, and then buccal mucosa, with the lowest levels in blood (leucocyte/platelet fraction). The probability of observing any strict hierarchy in family is 4.82 × 10−5. These results indicate that the distribution of the A3243G mutation is not solely determined by random processes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Chinnery PF, Zwijnenburg PJG, Walker M, Howell N, Taylor RW, Lightowlers RN, Bindoff L, Turnbull DM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A

Year: 1999

Volume: 85

Issue: 5

Pages: 498-501

Print publication date: 27/08/1999

ISSN (print): 1552-4825

ISSN (electronic): 1552-4833

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19990827)85:5<498::AID-AJMG13>3.0.CO;2-8


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