Mitochondrial DNA as a Biosensor of UV Exposure in Human Skin

  • Amy Bowman
  • Mark A. Birch-Machin
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1265)


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been demonstrated to be a reliable biomarker of UV-induced genetic damage in both animal and human skin. Properties of the mitochondrial genome which allow for its use as a biomarker of damage include its presence in multiple copies within a cell, its limited repair mechanisms, and its lack of protective histones. To measure UV-induced mtDNA damage (particularly in the form of strand breaks), real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is used, based on the observation that PCR amplification efficiency is decreased in the presence of high levels of damage. Here, we describe the measurement of UV-induced mtDNA damage, including the extraction of cellular DNA, qPCR to determine the relative amount of mtDNA, qPCR to determine UV-induced damage within a long strand of mtDNA, and the verification of the amplification process using gel electrophoresis.

Key words

Mitochondrial DNA Ultraviolet radiation Skin Real-time quantitative PCR Genetic damage 



This work was supported by the Institute of Cellular Medicine, the Faculty of Medical Sciences (Newcastle University), the North Eastern Skin Research Fund (NESRF), and the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre based at Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dermatological Sciences, Institute of Cellular MedicineNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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