Inside the mitochondrion is a certain type of DNA. That’s different in a way from the DNA that’s in the nucleus. This DNA is small and circular. It has only 16,500 or so base pairs in it. And it encodes different proteins that are specific for the mitochondrial. Now, remember those pathways that are within the mitochondrion for producing energy. Some of the enzymes in those pathways, and some of the proteins that are needed to function in those pathways, are produced by the mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondrial DNA is critically important for many of the pathways that produce energy within the mitochondria. And if there’s a defect in some of those mitochondrial DNA bases, that is to say a mutation, you will have a mitochondrial disease, which will involve the inability to produce sufficient energy in things like the muscle and the brain, and the kidney. Mitochondrial DNA, unlike nuclear DNA, is inherited from the mother, while nuclear DNA is inherited from both parents. So this is very helpful sometimes in determining how a person has a certain disorder in the family. Sometimes a disease will be inherited through the mother’s line, as opposed to both parents. You can tell from a pedigree or a group of family history whether or not this is a mitochondrial disease because of that.
Is aging linked to mitochondria function?
Age-related changes in mitochondria are associated with decline in mitochondrial function. With advanced age, mitochondrial DNA volume, integrity and functionality decrease due to accumulation of mutations and oxidative damage induced by reactive oxygen species
What does mitochondrial DNA do?
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA or mDNA) is the DNA located in mitochondria, cellular organelles within eukaryotic cells that convert chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
David Sinclair is an Australian biologist who is a Professor of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School. He is known for his research on aging with a focus on epigenetics. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia.
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