Paternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA in mice

Nature. 1991 Jul 18;352(6332):255-7. doi: 10.1038/352255a0.


For nearly 20 years it has been assumed on the basis of low-resolution experiments that mitochondrial (mt)DNA, in contrast to the genes in the nucleus, has an exclusively maternal mode of inheritance in animals. Using the polymerase chain reaction, paternally inherited mtDNA molecules have now been detected in mice at a frequency of 10(-4), relative to the maternal contributions. These mice were hybrids between two inbred strains (C57BL/6J and Mus spretus) whose mtDNAs can be distinguished easily. This new mode of inheritance provides a mechanism for generating heteroplasmy and may explain mitochondrial disorders exhibiting biparental transmission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muridae / genetics*
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Oligonucleotide Probes