Distinct clustering of point mutations in mitochondrial DNA among patients with mitochondrial encephalomyopathies and with Parkinson's disease

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1991 Apr 30;176(2):938-46. doi: 10.1016/s0006-291x(05)80276-1.


The total sequence data for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) revealed distinct clustering of point mutations (pms) in mtDNA among one patient with myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRF), two patients with Parkinson's disease (PD), two patients with mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS), and one patient with fatal infantile cardiomyopathy (FICM). Among 33 to 62 pms found in each patients, sequentially diverged five clusters of pms were detected and designated as C-1 to C-5. C-1, consisted of fourteen pms, existed in the MERRF patient, C-1 and C-2 (nine pms) in one PD patient, C-1 to C-3 (seven pms) in another PD patient, C-1 to C-4 (one pm) in one MELAS patient and C-1 to C-5 (three pms) in another MELAS patient and the FICM patient. From these clustering of pms, a phylogenetic tree of mitochondrial encephalomyopathies (ME) was constructed. This tree clearly indicated that the ME and PD patients are members of the same gene family, and the MELAS and FICM patients are each others' closest relative. Each patient's unique pms (14 to 28 pms) were detected and, from their characteristic features, the types of the mutations specific for the disease were classified as mit- + syn- for MERRF, mit- + p- for PD, and syn- + mit- for MELAS. An inverse relation was found between the total number of pms and life span of the MELAS and FICM patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / pathology*
  • Multigene Family*
  • Mutation*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA, Mitochondrial