Mitochondrial DNA – role in cancer?

Mitochondria (plural of mitochondrion) are membrane-bound organelles (the cell’s ‘mini organs’) found in nearly all cells which play a vital role as “cellular power plants” by generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used by cells as a source of chemical energy. Mitochondria also play a role in cellular signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, control of the cell cycle and cell growth, and other roles. Mitochondria are unusual in that they contain their own DNA, whilst the rest of the human genome is concentrated in the nucleus of the cell. Also, Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is only inherited from mothers, whist the DNA in the cells nucleus is inherited from both mother and father.

Diagram of the structure of a mitochondrion from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons CC0 license.

mtDNA has been linked carcinogenesis because of its high susceptibility to mutations and limited repair mechanisms in comparison to nuclear DNA. mtDNA lacks introns, so mutations tend to occur in coding sequences and it is thought that accumulation of these mutations may lead to tumor formation (Radpour et al, 2009). Research into of role of mtDNA mutations in cancer is advancing understanding of their functional role in carcinogenesis, value in diagnosis and monitoring, and potential therapeutic implications….

 

See more at:

http://www.cancerindex.org/geneweb/gmtdna.htm

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