Send to

Choose Destination
Autophagy. 2012 Mar;8(3):424-5. doi: 10.4161/auto.19243. Epub 2012 Feb 3.

Maternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA: degradation of paternal mitochondria by allogeneic organelle autophagy, allophagy.

Author information

Laboratory of Molecular Traffic, Institute for Molecular and Cellular Regulation, Gunma University, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan.


Maternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is generally observed in many eukaryotes. Sperm-derived paternal mitochondria and their mtDNA enter the oocyte cytoplasm upon fertilization and then normally disappear during early embryogenesis. However, the mechanism underlying this clearance of paternal mitochondria has remained largely unknown. Recently, we showed that autophagy is required for the elimination of paternal mitochondria in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Shortly after fertilization, autophagosomes are induced locally around the penetrated sperm components. These autophagosomes engulf paternal mitochondria, resulting in their lysosomal degradation during early embryogenesis. In autophagy-defective zygotes, paternal mitochondria and their genomes remain even in the larval stage. Therefore, maternal inheritance of mtDNA is accomplished by autophagic degradation of paternal mitochondria. We also found that another kind of sperm-derived structure, called the membranous organelle, is degraded by zygotic autophagy as well. We thus propose to term this allogeneic (nonself) organelle autophagy as allophagy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center