Journal Articles

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Nature Communications


Mitochondria carry their own circular genome and disruption of the mitochondrial genome is associated with various aging-related diseases. Unlike the nuclear genome, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can be present at 1000 s to 10,000 s copies in somatic cells and variants may exist in a state of heteroplasmy, where only a fraction of the DNA molecules harbors a particular variant. We quantify mtDNA heteroplasmy in 194,871 participants in the UK Biobank and find that heteroplasmy is associated with a 1.5-fold increased risk of all-cause mortality. Additionally, we functionally characterize mtDNA single nucleotide variants (SNVs) using a constraint-based score, mitochondrial local constraint score sum (MSS) and find it associated with all-cause mortality, and with the prevalence and incidence of cancer and cancer-related mortality, particularly leukemia. These results indicate that mitochondria may have a functional role in certain cancers, and mitochondrial heteroplasmic SNVs may serve as a prognostic marker for cancer, especially for leukemia.


Humans, Mitochondria, DNA, Mitochondrial, Heteroplasmy, Leukemia, Mutation

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