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Hum Mol Genet. 1997 Oct;6(11):1835-46.

Population genetics and disease susceptibility: characterization of central European haplogroups by mtDNA gene mutations, correlation with D loop variants and association with disease.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Academic Hospital Schwabing, Munich, Germany.


Mitochondrial (mt)DNA haplogroups in a German control group (n = 67) were characterized by screening mitochondrial coding regions encompassing most of the ND, tRNA and cyt b genes. We used a PCR-SSCP screening approach followed by direct sequencing of polymorphic mtDNA fragments. Five major mtDNA lineages, diverging in at least nine different haplogroups, could be defined by characteristic polymorphic sites in mitochondrial genes. Additional sequencing of two hypervariable segments (HVS-I and II) of the non-coding displacement (D) loop in all control subjects revealed that certain D loop variants were strongly correlated with lineages and haplogroups, while others represented hotspots occurring frequently in different haplogroups. The existence of identified lineages and haplogroups received support from data in the literature, obtained by use of different approaches. Subsequently, we investigated four disease groups for association with these haplogroups: (i) LHON patients (n = 55) carrying at least one of the primary/intermediate LHON mutations at nt 3460, 11778, 14484 and/or 15257; (ii) patients suffering from Wolfram or DIDMOAD syndrome (n = 8); (iii) MELAS patients (n = 9); (iv) a group of children, who died from 'sudden infant death syndrome' (SIDS) (n = 9). The distribution patterns among the haplogroups of the disease groups (LHON, DIDMOAD and SIDS) differed considerably from the control population. LHON and DIDMOAD were significantly under-represented in the most frequent German haplogroup DC, but were concentrated in a mtDNA lineage defined by polymorphisms at nt 4216 + 11251 + 16126. As this lineage diverged into two precisely defined haplogroups, LHON and DIDMOAD could be assigned to the two haplogroups separately. Strikingly, SIDS was often found in association with two rare German haplogroups. MELAS patients were equally distributed among German haplogroups and, moreover, did not reveal any accumulation of specific D loop variants. We conclude that certain European mtDNA haplogroups define a genetic susceptibility basis for various disorders.

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