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J Hum Genet. 2004;49(8):414-23. Epub 2004 Jul 22.

Phylogeographic analysis of mitochondrial DNA haplogroup F2 in China reveals T12338C in the initiation codon of the ND5 gene not to be pathogenic.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, and Molecular Biology of Domestic Animals, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 650223, Kunming, China.


In this report, we studied on a homoplasmic T12338C change in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which substituted methionine in the translational initiation codon of the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 5 gene ( ND5) with threonine. This nucleotide change was originally identified in two mtDNAs belonging to haplogroup F2 by our previous complete sequencing of 48 mtDNAs. Since then, a total of 76 F2 mtDNAs have been identified by the variations occurring in the hypervariable segments and coding regions among more than 3,000 individuals across China. As the T12338C change was detected in 32 samples representing various sub-clades of the F2 haplogroup while not in 14 non-F2 controls, we believe that the T12338C change is specific to the F2 haplogroup. As F2 and its sub-clades were widely distributed in normal individuals of various Chinese populations, we conclude that T12338C is not pathogenic. In addition, based on the average distribution frequency, haplotype diversity and nucleotide diversity of haplogroup F2 in the populations across China, the T12338C nucleotide substitution seems to have been occurred in north China about 42,000 years ago. Our results provided a good paradigm for distinguishing a polymorphic change from a pathogenic mutation based on mtDNA phylogeny.

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