Functional and morphological abnormalities of mitochondria in human cells containing mitochondrial DNA with pathogenic point mutations in tRNA genes

J Biol Chem. 1994 Jul 22;269(29):19060-6.


mtDNA with a point mutation in the tRNA(Ile) gene at nucleotide position 4269 found in a patient with fatal cardiomyopathy and mtDNA with a point mutation in the tRNA(Arg) gene at 10410 found in a patient with Alpers disease were transferred cytoplasmically to rho zero HeLa cells (HeLa cells lacking mtDNA) to determine whether these novel mtDNA mutations in the tRNA genes are responsible for the defects in mitochondrial respiration function observed in these diseases. Cybrid clones (clones of rho zero HeLa cells with mtDNA from the patients) were isolated, and respiratory function and morphology of the mitochondria of the cybrid clones containing wild-type mtDNA and mutant mtDNA predominantly were compared. The results showed that accumulation of mutant mtDNA at 4269 alone without defects in the nuclear genome was sufficient to produce a disease phenotype, while mutant mtDNA at 10410 was not related to pathogenesis and reflected one of the rare polymorphic sites of human mtDNA. Moreover, we found that mitochondria in living cells were significantly swollen only when they contained predominantly the pathogenic mutant mtDNA, suggesting that the functional abnormality of mitochondria induced by pathogenic mtDNA mutations in tRNA genes is always associated with their swollen structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Diffuse Cerebral Sclerosis of Schilder / genetics*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hybrid Cells
  • MELAS Syndrome / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Mutation
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Point Mutation
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer, Ile / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer, Ile
  • RNA
  • Electron Transport Complex IV