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False-positive diagnosis of a single, large-scale mitochondrial DNA deletion by southern blot analysis: The role of neutral polymorphisms

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Robert Taylor


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Single, large-scale deletions of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are a common finding in the molecular investigation of patients with suspected mitochondrial disorders and are typically detected by Southern blot analysis of muscle DNA that has been linearized by a single cutter enzyme (BamHI or PvuII). We describe our investigations of a 47-year-old woman with exercise intolerance, myalgia, and ptosis who underwent a muscle biopsy for a suspected mitochondrial genetic abnormality. Southern blot analysis after digestion of muscle DNA with BamHI revealed the apparent presence of two mtDNA species, indicative of a heteroplasmic deletion of 2.0-2.5 kb in length involving approximately 50% of all molecules. Contrary to this observation, long-range polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified only wild-type mtDNA. Sequence analysis revealed that the patient harbored two previously recognized control region polymorphisms, a homoplasmic 16390G>A variant that introduces a new BamHI site and a heteroplasmic 16390G>A change that abolishes this site, thus explaining the initial false-positive testing for a heteroplasmic mtDNA deletion. Our findings highlight the potential problems associated with the diagnosis of mitochondrial genetic disease and emphasize the need to confirm positive cases of mtDNA deletions using more than one enzyme or an independent method such as long-range PCR amplification.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Deschauer M, Krasnianski A, Zierz S, Taylor RW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Genetic Testing

Year: 2005

Volume: 8

Issue: 4

Pages: 395-399

ISSN (print): 1090-6576

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert


DOI: 10.1089/gte.2004.8.395

PubMed id: 15684869


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