Defects of intergenomic communication: where do we stand?

Brain Pathol. 2000 Jul;10(3):451-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.2000.tb00277.x.


An expanding number of autosomal diseases has been associated with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion and multiple deletions. These disorders have been classified as defects of intergenomic communication because mutations of the nuclear DNA are thought to disrupt the normal cross-talk that regulates the integrity and quantity of mtDNA. In 1989, autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia with multiple deletions of mitochondrial DNA was the first of these disorders to be identified. Two years later, mtDNA depletion syndrome was initially reported in infants with severe hepatopathy or myopathy. The causes of these diseases are still unclear, but genetic linkage studies have identified three chromosomal loci for AD-PEO. Mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE), an autosomal recessive disorder associated with both mtDNA depletion and multiple deletions, is now known to be due to loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding thymidine phosphorylase. Increased plasma thymidine levels in MNGIE patients suggest that imbalanced nucleoside and nucleotide pools in mitochondria may lead to impaired replication of mtDNA. Future research will certainly lead to the identification of additional genetic causes of intergenomic communication defects and will likely provide insight into the normal "dialogue" between the two genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / diagnosis
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Myopathies / physiopathology
  • Mutation / physiology


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA