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Biogerontology. 2012 Oct;13(5):557-64. doi: 10.1007/s10522-012-9390-7. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Is mitochondrial DNA turnover slower than commonly assumed?

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Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 7, avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, 4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.


Mutations arise during DNA replication due to oxidative lesions and intrinsic polymerase errors. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutation rate is therefore closely linked to the mitochondrial DNA turnover process, especially in post mitotic cells. This makes the mitochondrial DNA turnover rate critical for understanding the origin and dynamics of mtDNA mutagenesis in post mitotic cells. Experimental mitochondrial turnover quantification has been based on different mitochondrial macromolecules, such as mitochondrial proteins, lipids and DNA, and the experimental data suggested highly divergent turnover rates, ranging from over 2 days to about 1 year. In this article we argue that mtDNA turnover rate cannot be as fast as is often envisaged. Using a stochastic model based on the chemical master equation, we show that a turnover rate corresponding to mtDNA half-life in the order of months is the most consistent with published mtDNA mutation levels.

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