Mitochondrial gene polymorphism is associated with gut microbial communities in mice

Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 10;7(1):15293. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15377-7.


Gut microbial communities are key mediators of health and disease and have the capacity to drive the pathogenesis of diverse complex diseases including metabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases as well as aging. Host genetics is also a major determinant of disease phenotypes, whereby two different genomes play a role, the nuclear (nDNA)- and mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). We investigated the impact of mutations in mtDNA on the gut microbiota using conplastic mouse strains exhibiting distinct mutations in their mtDNA on an identical nDNA. Each of three strain tested harbors a distinct gut microbiota, ranging from differences at the phylum- to operational taxonomic units level. The C57BL/6J-mt FVB/NJ strain, carrying a mutation in the mitochondrial ATP8 synthase gene, exhibits higher Firmicutes abundance than Bacteroidetes, indicating a possible indicative for metabolic dysfunctions. In line with this, the C57BL/6J-mt FVB/NJ displays a variety of different phenotypes, including increased susceptibility to metabolic-related and inflammatory disorders. Furthermore, we discuss the cross-talk between mitochondrial genome/mitochondria and commensal microbiota in relation to clinical phenotypes. In summary, we demonstrate that mutations in mtDNA lead to significant differences in the composition of gut microbial communities in mice. Such differences may facilitate the emergence of metabolic disease and therefore constitute potential therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Genome, Mitochondrial*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Mitochondrial Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • mt-Atp8 protein, mouse