Transmission, inheritance and replication of mitochondrial DNA in mammals: implications for reproductive processes and infertility
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- St John, J.C. Cell Tissue Res (2012) 349: 795. doi:10.1007/s00441-012-1444-2
The mitochondrial genome contributes key proteins to the electron-transfer chain, which through oxidative phosphorylation, generates the vast majority of cellular ATP. This maternally inherited genome is transmitted to subsequent generations through the oocyte. Its transmission, inheritance and replication are strictly regulated so that fully mature cells can be appropriately populated with mitochondrial DNA once they mature into adult cells. However, gametes do not always acquire the appropriate numbers of mitochondrial DNA copy; this often renders them inappropriate for successful fertilisation outcome. Furthermore, the number of assisted reproductive technologies that can overcome problems associated with infertility and that can provide enhanced genetic outcomes for the offspring is increasing. However, such techniques could also have a detrimental effect on offspring survival. If we are to introduce these technologies into in vitro fertilisation clinics and animal production, then we first need to validate their use carefully.