Maternally inherited duplication of the mitochondrial genome in a syndrome of proximal tubulopathy, diabetes mellitus, and cerebellar ataxia

Am J Hum Genet. 1992 Feb;50(2):364-70.


Two sisters in the first year of life presented with a proximal tubulopathy of unknown etiology. They subsequently developed a pluritissular disorder including diabetes mellitus, skin abnormalities, mitochondrial myopathy with ragged-red fibers, and cerebellar ataxia. Their mother had ptosis, ophthalmoplegia, and muscle weakness. Analysis of the mitochondrial respiratory chain showed a complex III deficiency in both skeletal muscle and lymphocytes of the second girl. Southern blot analysis provided evidence for a heteroplasmic partial duplication of the mtDNA (26 kb), involving one full-length and one partly deleted mitochondrial genome and with one single abnormal junction between the genes for ATPase 6 and cytochrome b. Using PCR amplification of lymphocyte DNA, we were able to detect minute amounts of duplicated molecules in the mother, which provided evidence for maternal inheritance of the partial duplication. While maternal transmission of point mutations have been reported in Leber disease, retinitis pigmentosa, and MERRF disease, this observation is, to our knowledge, the first example of a maternally inherited duplication of the mitochondrial genome in man.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / genetics*
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Cytochrome b Group / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / genetics*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Pedigree
  • Pregnancy


  • Cytochrome b Group
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases