Mouse models for mitochondrial disease

Am J Med Genet. 2001 Spring;106(1):71-93. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1393.


Mutations in mitochondrial genes encoded by both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) genes have been implicated in a wide range of neuromuscular diseases. MtDNA base substitution and rearrangement mutations generally inactivate one or more tRNA or rRNA genes and can cause myopathy, cardiomyopathy, cataracts, growth retardation, diabetes, etc. nDNA mutations can cause Leigh syndrome, cardiomyopathy, and nephropathy, due to defects in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzyme complexes; cartilage-hair hypoplasia (CHH) and mtDNA depletion syndrome, through defects in mitochondrial nucleic acid metabolism; and ophthalmoplegia with multiple mtDNA deletions, caused by adenine nucleotide translocator-1 (ANT1) mutations. Mouse models have been prepared that recapitulate a number of these diseases. The mtDNA 16S rRNA chloramphenicol (CAP) resistance mutation was introduced into the mouse female germline and caused cataracts and rod and cone abnormalities in chimeras and neonatal lethal myopathy and cardiomyopathy in mutant animals. A mtDNA deletion was introduced into the mouse germline and caused myopathy, cardiomyopathy, and nephropathy. Conditional inactivation of the nDNA mitochondrial transcription factor (Tfam) gene in the heart resulted in neonatal lethal cardiomyopathy, while its inactivation in the pancreatic beta-cells caused diabetes. The ATP/ADP ratio was implicated in mitochondrial diabetes through transgenic modification of the beta-cell ATP-sensitive K(+) channel (K(ATP)). Mutational inactivation of the mouse Ant1 gene resulted in myopathy, cardiomyopathy, and multiple mtDNA deletions in association with elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Inactivation of uncoupler proteins (Ucp) 1-3 revealed that mitochondrial Delta Psi regulated ROS production. The role of mitochondrial ROS toxicity in disease and aging was confirmed by inactivating glutathione peroxidase (GPx1), resulting in growth retardation, and by total and partial inactivation of Mn superoxide dismutase (MnSOD; Sod2), resulting in neonatal lethal dilated cardiomyopathy and accelerated apoptosis in aging, respectively. The importance of mitochondrial ROS in degenerative diseases and aging was confirmed by treating Sod2 -/- mice and C. elegans with catalytic antioxidant drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Potassium Channels
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S