Purpose: Mitochondrial disorders constitute a group of clinically and genetically heterogeneous diseases for which molecular diagnosis has been a challenge. The current procedures for diagnosis of mitochondrial DNA deletion and depletion syndromes based on Southern analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction are particularly inefficient for determining important parameters of deletion endpoints and percent heteroplasmy. We have developed an improved approach for routine analyses of these disorders in a clinical laboratory.
Methods: A custom-designed oligonucleotide array-based comparative genomic hybridization platform was developed to provide both tiled coverage of the entire 16.6-kb mitochondrial genome and high-density coverage of nuclear genes involved in mitochondrial biogenesis and function, for quick evaluation of mitochondrial DNA deletion and depletion.
Results: For initial validation, the performance of this array was characterized in 20 samples with known mitochondrial DNA deletions and 12 with apparent depletions. All previously known deletions were clearly detected and the break points were correctly identified by the oligonucleotide array-based comparative genomic hybridization, within the limits of resolution of the array. The extent of mitochondrial DNA depletion and the percentage of deletion heteroplasmy were estimated using an automated computational approach that gave results comparable to previous methods. Conclusions from subsequent application of this approach with >300 new clinical samples have been in 100% concordance with those from standard methods. Finally, for one sample, we were able to identify an intragenic deletion in a nuclear gene that was responsible for the observed mitochondrial DNA depletion.
Conclusion: We conclude that this custom array is capable of reliably detecting mitochondrial DNA deletion with elucidation of the deletion break points and the percentage of heteroplasmy. In addition, simultaneous detection of the copy number changes in both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes makes this dual genome array of tremendous value in the diagnoses of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndromes.