Seventeen individuals from three unrelated multi-generation families have shown the trait (a high level of mtDNA heteroplasmy, ranging from 24 to 76 percent):
A new study led by geneticist Taosheng Huang from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre shows human mitochondrial DNA can be paternally inherited, in a landmark case that started with the treatment of a sick four-year-old boy.
The child, who was showing signs of fatigue, muscle pain, and other symptoms, was evaluated by doctors, and tested to see if he had a mitochondrial disorder.
When Huang ran the tests – and then ran them again to be sure – he couldn’t make sense of the results that came back.
“That’s impossible,” he told NOVA Next.
The reason Huang was so shocked was because the boy’s results showed a mix – called a heteroplasmy – in his mitochondrial DNA, which was made up of more then just maternal contributions.Peter Dockrill, “Radical Findings Show Mitochondrial DNA Can Be Inherited From Dads” at ScienceAlert
While there is evidence of this from animal studies, it was first detected in humans in this case, according to Peter Dockrill at ScienceAlert.
Here’s the story at NOVA Next:
Since putting together their initial findings, Huang and his team have already identified several more candidate families with mixed mitochondrial DNA. According to his preliminary estimates, this phenomenon may be present in as many as 1 in every 5,000 people. While Wang stresses that more research by other groups is needed to confirm these numbers, the work from Huang’s team indicates that paternal transmission of mitochondria may be far more widespread than researchers once thought.
So how has this been overlooked for so long? “Most people have taken for granted that mitochondrial inheritance is strictly maternal,” Breton explains. “But sequencing techniques are so much more powerful than they were even just a few years ago.” Katherine J. Wu, “Not Your Mom’s Genes: Mitochondrial DNA Can Come from Dad” at NOVA
Note: “So how has this been overlooked for so long? ‘Most people have taken for granted that mitochondrial inheritance is strictly maternal,’ Breton explains.” Translated from the Researcher-ese: There’ll be lots of surprises now that genetic sequences are routinely obtained by physicians.
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Hat tip: David Nguyen
See also: Rewrite the Textbooks (Again), Origin of Mitochondria Blown Up
Researchers: Mechanism may exist in all animals for filtering out mitochondrial DNA mutations