, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 472-479

Diseases resulting from mitochondrial DNA point mutations

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A number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations have been identified which cause familial, late onset neuromuscular degenerative diseases. These include missense mutations in most of the mtDNA polypeptide genes as well as base substitutions in several tRNA genes. Missense mutations in the mitochondrial electron-transport genes cause Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. Ten mutations have been associated with this disease, but four at nps 11 178, 3460, 4160 and 15 257 appear sufficient in themselves to cause the disease. One missense mutation in the ATPase 6 gene at np 8993 causes a second phenotype, neurogenic muscle weakness, ataxia and retinitis pigmentosum. Transfer RNA mutations have been identified for myoclonic epilepsy and ragged-red fibre disease in the tRNALys gene at np 8344 and for the mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes syndrome and for maternal mitochondrial myopathy and cardiomyopathy syndrome in the tRNALeu(UUR) gene at nps 3234 and 3260, respectively. Deficiencies in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation enzymes have been observed in several common neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. Perhaps mtDNA mutations play a role in these as well.