Nuclear transplantation in cases of mutations in mitochondrial DNA
20 March 2001
Mitochondria are intracellular organelles that are essential for the supply of energy to the cells. Located in the mitochondria are a small number of genes, which are inherited via a maternal line. Children inherit the mitochondrial genes exclusively from their mother and daughters transmit these genes to all of their children.
Mutations in mitochondrial genes can lead to a wide variety of disorders, such as myopathy, blindness or diabetes. The severity of these disorders partly depends on the ratio between the quantities of mutated and normal DNA in the mitochondria. Because this ratio can change radically from one generation to the next, it is in many cases not possible to predict the seriousness of the disease in children of affected mothers. Life expectancy is also partly dependent on this ratio. There is usually no treatment for this condition and in some mitochondrial disorders, life expectancy does not extend beyond childhood.
Health Council of the Netherlands: Nuclear transplantation in cases of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. The Hague: Health Council of the Netherlands, 2001; publication no. 2001/07. ISBN 90-5549-364-3