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The Mitochondrial Genome And Human Mitochondrial Diseases

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To date, more than 100 point mutations and several hundreds of structural rearrangements of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are known too be connected with characteristic neuromuscular and other mitochondrial syndromes varying from those causing death at the neonatal stage to diseases with late ages of onset. The immediate cause of mitochondrial disorders is a defective oxidative phosphorylation. Wide phenotypic variation and the heteroplasmy phenomenon, which some authors include in mutation load, are characteristic of human mitochondrial diseases. As the numbers of cases identified and pedigrees described increase, data on the genotype‐phenotype interaction and the structure and frequency of pathogenic and conditionally pathogenic mtDNA mutations in human populations are rapidly accumulated. The data on the genetics and epidemiology of mitochondrial diseases are not only important for differential diagnosis and genetic counseling. Since both neutral and mildly pathogenic mutations of mtDNA are progressively accumulated in maternal phyletic lines, molecular analysis of these mutations permits not only reconstruction of the genealogical tree of modern humans, but also estimation of the role that these mutations play in natural selection.
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Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: September 1, 2002

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