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Ann Neurol. 1996 Aug;40(2):172-80.

Mitochondrial DNA and RNA processing in MELAS.

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  • 1H. Houston Merritt Clinical Research Center for Muscular Dystrophy and Related Disorders, New York, NY, USA.


Mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS), a maternally inherited disorder, is usually associated with a point mutation in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) at position 3,243 in the tRNA Leu(UUR) gene. To further study the pathogenesis of MELAS, we analyzed tissues from 8 MELAS-3,243 patients. Southern blot analysis showed an increase in the ratio of mtDNA to nuclear DNA in almost all tissues examined, implying that mitochondrial proliferation is ubiquitous and is not confined to ragged-red fibers in muscle. By northern blot analysis, we demonstrated increased steady-state levels of RNA 19, a polycistronic transcript corresponding to the 16S rRNA + tRNA Leu(UUR) + ND1 genes (which are contiguous in the mtDNA) in heart, kidney, and muscle. These results provide further evidence that altered mitochondrial nucleic acid metabolism may have pathogenic significance in MELAS.

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