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Ann Med. 2005;37(3):213-21.

Molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial diabetes (MIDD).

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology LUMC, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Mitochondria provide cells with most of the energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Mitochondria are complex organelles encoded both by nuclear and mtDNA. Only a few mitochondrial components are encoded by mtDNA, most of the mt-proteins are nuclear DNA encoded. Remarkably, the majority of the known mutations leading to a mitochondrial disease have been identified in mtDNA rather than in nuclear DNA. In general, the idea is that these pathogenic mutations in mtDNA affect energy supply leading to a disease state. Remarkably, different mtDNA mutations can associate with distinct disease states, a situation that is difficult to reconcile with the idea that a reduced ATP production is the sole pathogenic factor. This review deals with emerging insight into the mechanism by which the A3243G mutation in the mitochondrial tRNA (Leu, UUR) gene associates with diabetes as major clinical expression. A decrease in glucose-induced insulin secretion by pancreatic beta-cells and a premature aging of these cells seem to be the main process by which this mutation causes diabetes. The underlying mechanisms and variability in clinical presentation are discussed.

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