Genetic determinants of mitochondrial content


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Abstract

The mitochondria are the major cellular site of energy production and respiration. Recent research has focused on investigating the role of mitochondria in disease development and it has become increasingly evident that mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to a variety of human diseases. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) quantity is very important for maintaining mitochondrial function and meeting the energy needs of the body. We have measured mitochondrial content in 1259 Mexican American individuals (from 42 extended families) and have shown that mtDNA quantity (a surrogate measure of mitochondrial integrity) has a large genetic component. We performed a genome scan and a genome-wide quantitative transcriptomic scan to identify QTLs influencing mitochondrial content. A variance components linkage-based genome scan utilizing 439 STR markers was used to localize a QTL for mitochondrial content on chromosome 10q (LOD=3.83). Significant linkage to the mitochondrial genome was also detected for mitochondrial transmission (LOD=3.39). For replication, we measured mitochondrial content in an independent Caucasian population (1088 individuals) finding evidence for linkage in these same regions. As part of the San Antonio Family Heart Study, we obtained genome-wide quantitative transcriptional profiles from 1240 individuals. Using lymphocyte samples, we quantitated 20 413 transcripts and examined correlations between the expression levels of these transcripts and mitochondrial content using the variance components method. Using regression analysis allowing for residual genetic components, we identified 829 transcripts (including many novel genes) influencing mitochondrial content that vary in their general biological actions, from cell signaling to cell trafficking and ion binding.

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