Tales from the crypt

J Clin Invest. 2003 Nov;112(9):1312-6. doi: 10.1172/JCI20249.


Intestinal colonic crypts are derived from a stem cell population located at the base of each crypt. A new analysis of mitochondrial function and of the rates of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutation in individual crypts shows that mtDNA mutations arise in stem cells - and at a surprisingly high frequency. Because crypts turn over extremely rapidly (about once per week), somatic mtDNA mutations can "take over the system" and even become homoplasmic, in a manner similar to what has been shown to occur in tumors.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Colon / cytology*
  • Colon / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / physiology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases