Multi-organ characterization of mitochondrial genomic rearrangements in ad libitum and caloric restricted mice show striking somatic mitochondrial DNA rearrangements with age

Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Mar 1;25(5):974-82. doi: 10.1093/nar/25.5.974.


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) rearrangements have been shown to accumulate with age in the post-mitotic tissues of a variety of animals and have been hypothesized to result in the age-related decline of mitochondrial bioenergetics leading to tissue and organ failure. Caloric restriction in rodents has been shown to extend life span supporting an association between bioenergetics and senescence. In the present study, we use full length mtDNA amplification by long-extension polymerase chain reaction (LX-PCR) to demonstrate that mice accumulate a wide variety of mtDNA rearrangements with age in post mitotic tissues. Similarly, using an alternative PCR strategy, we have found that 2-4 kb minicircles containing the origin of heavy-strand replication accumulate with age in heart but not brain. Analysis of mtDNA structure and conformation by Southern blots of unrestricted DNA resolved by field inversion gel electrophoresis have revealed that the brain mtDNAs of young animals contain the traditional linear, nicked, and supercoiled mtDNAs while old animals accumulate substantial levels of a slower migrating species we designate age-specific mtDNAs. In old caloric restricted animals, a wide variety of rearranged mtDNAs can be detected by LX-PCR in post mitotic tissues, but Southern blots of unrestricted DNA reveals a marked reduction in the levels of the age- specific mtDNA species. These observations confirm that mtDNA mutations accumulate with age in mice and suggest that caloric restriction impedes this progress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Mitochondrial