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Intracellular quality control of mitochondrial DNA: evidence and limitations

Intracellular quality control of mitochondrial DNA: evidence and limitations

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B Biological Sciences 375(1790): 20190176

Eukaryotic cells can harbour mitochondria with markedly different transmembrane potentials. Intracellular mitochondrial quality-control mechanisms (e.g. mitophagy) rely on this intracellular variation to distinguish functional and damaged (depolarized) mitochondria. Given that intracellular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genetic variation can induce mitochondrial heterogeneity, mitophagy could remove deleterious mtDNA variants in cells. However, the reliance of mitophagy on the mitochondrial transmembrane potential suggests that mtDNAs with deleterious mutations in ATP synthase can evade the control. This evasion is possible because inhibition of ATP synthase can increase the mitochondrial transmembrane potential. Moreover, the linkage of the mtDNA genotype to individual mitochondrial performance is expected to be weak owing to intracellular mitochondrial intercomplementation. Nonetheless, I reason that intracellular mtDNA quality control is possible and crucial at the zygote stage of the life cycle. Indeed, species with biparental mtDNA inheritance or frequent 'leakage' of paternal mtDNA can be vulnerable to invasion of selfish mtDNAs at the stage of gamete fusion. Here, I critically review recent findings on intracellular mtDNA quality control by mitophagy and discuss other mechanisms by which the nuclear genome can affect the competition of mtDNA variants in the cell. This article is part of the theme issue 'Linking the mitochondrial genotype to phenotype: a complex endeavour'.

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Accession: 069570541

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PMID: 31787047

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