Mitochondrial DNA polymorphism in Finnish families with Leber's hereditary optic neuroretinopathy

Hum Genet. 1989 Jun;82(3):208-12. doi: 10.1007/BF00291155.


Leukocyte mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 17 Finnish families with Leber's hereditary optic neuroretinopathy and 70 maternally unrelated controls as well as skeletal muscle mtDNA from four of the Leber families and three controls was analyzed with 30 restriction enzymes. By this means, over 10% of the nucleotides of mtDNA were screened. No major deletion or insertion was found in any of the mtDNAs studied. The restriction fragment patterns of mtDNA showed no evidence of mtDNA heteroplasmy (mixture of different mtDNA types) in either blood or muscle cells. In all, 24 mtDNA types were observed in the material. In the maternal lines of Leber families, 11 mtDNA types were found, indicating no recent common maternal ancestor for the Finnish Leber families. In spite of several previously unknown polymorphisms, no mutation of mtDNA could be found exclusively in families with Leber's disease. However, a couple of mutations leading to amino acid replacements of mitochondrially encoded proteins were observed in certain Leber families only. These mutations have occurred in genes coding for subunits of NADH dehydrogenase, suggesting that a defect of the respiratory chain complex I may cause Leber's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Hereditary Sensory and Motor Neuropathy / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Optic Atrophies, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length*
  • Restriction Mapping


  • DNA, Mitochondrial