Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Mitochondrial DNA mutations are established in human colonic stem cells, and mutated clones expand by crypt fission

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laura Greaves, Professor Robert Taylor, Dr Martin Barron, Emeritus Professor Doug Turnbull



The understanding of the fixation of mutations within human tissues and their subsequent clonal expansion is a considerable problem, of which little is known. We have previously shown that nononcogenic mutations in the mitochondrial genome occur in one of a number of morphologically normal colonic crypt stem cells, the progeny of which later occupy the whole crypt. We propose that these wholly mutated crypts then clonally expand by crypt fission, where each crypt divides into two mutated daughter crypts. Here we show that (i) mutated crypts in the process of fission share the same mutated mitochondrial genotype not present in neighboring cytochrome c oxidase-positive crypts (the odds of this being a random event are ≥2.48 × 109:1); (ii) neighboring mutated crypts have the same genotype, which is different from adjacent cytochrome c oxidase-positive crypts; (iii) mutated crypts are clustered together throughout the colon; and (iv) patches of cytochrome c oxidase-deficient crypts increase in size with age. We thus demonstrate definitively that crypt fission is the mechanism by which mutations spread in the normal human colon. This has important implications for the biology of the normal adult human colon and possibly for the growth and spread of colorectal neoplasms. © 2006 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Greaves LC, Preston SL, Tadrous PJ, Taylor RW, Barron MJ, Oukrif D, Leedham SJ, Deheragoda M, Sasieni P, Novelli MR, Jankowski JAZ, Turnbull DM, Wright NA, McDonald SAC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Year: 2006

Volume: 103

Issue: 3

Pages: 714-719

ISSN (print): 0027-8424

ISSN (electronic): 1091-6490

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences


DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0505903103

PubMed id: 16407113


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust
074454Wellcome Trust
G84/6549Medical Research Council