Very Low-Level Heteroplasmy mtDNA Variations Are Inherited in Humans

Yan Guo, Chung I. Li, Quanhu Sheng, Jeanette F. Winther, Qiuyin Cai, John D. Boice, Yu Shyr

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about the inheritance of very low heteroplasmy mitochondria DNA (mtDNA) variations. Even with the development of new next-generation sequencing methods, the practical lower limit of measured heteroplasmy is still about 1% due to the inherent noise level of the sequencing. In this study, we sequenced the mitochondrial genome of 44 individuals using Illumina high-throughput sequencing technology and obtained high-coverage mitochondria sequencing data. Our study population contains many mother-offspring pairs. This unique study design allows us to bypass the usual heteroplasmy limitation by analyzing the correlation of mutation levels at each position in the mtDNA sequence between maternally related pairs and non-related pairs. The study showed that very low heteroplasmy variants, down to almost 0.1%, are inherited maternally and that this inheritance begins to decrease at about 0.5%, corresponding to a bottleneck of about 200 mtDNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-615
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Genetics and Genomics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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