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Aging Cell. 2007 Aug;6(4):557-64. Epub 2007 Jun 18.

Ultraviolet radiation exposure accelerates the accumulation of the aging-dependent T414G mitochondrial DNA mutation in human skin.

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Dermatological Sciences, Institute of Cellular Medicine, School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences, The Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK.


The accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations has been proposed as an underlying cause of the aging process. Such mutations are thought to be generated principally through mechanisms involving oxidative stress. Skin is frequently exposed to a potent mutagen in the form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and mtDNA deletion mutations have previously been shown to accumulate with photoaging. Here we report that the age-related T414G point mutation originally identified in skin fibroblasts from donors over 65 years also accumulates with age in skin tissue. Moreover, there is a significantly greater incidence of this mutation in skin from sun-exposed sites (chi(2)= 6.8, P < 0.01). Identification and quantification of the T414G mutation in dermal skin tissue from 108 donors ranging from 8 to 97 years demonstrated both increased occurrence with photoaging as well as an increase in the proportion of molecules affected. In addition, we have discovered frequent genetic linkage between a common photoaging-associated mtDNA deletion and the T414G mutation. This linkage indicates that mtDNA mutations such as these are unlikely to be distributed equally across the mtDNA population within the skin tissue, increasing their likelihood of exerting focal effects at the cellular level. Taken together, these data significantly contribute to our understanding of the DNA damaging effects of UV exposure and how resultant mutations may ultimately contribute towards premature aging.

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