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Microheteroplasmy is a form of heteroplasmy, a type of mutational damage to mitochondrial DNA. While heteroplasmy in general includes mutations present in any fraction of mtDNA (from fractions of a percent to almost a hundred percent), microheteroplasmy is the presence of mutations levels of up to about 2 - 5 %. This distinction is dictated by technical considerations - classical DNA sequencing of mtDNA by the use of PCR is capable only of detecting mutations at levels of 10% or more, as a result of which mutations at lower levels were never systematically observed until the pioneering work of Lin et al .
Additional recommended knowledge
As it became apparent after the use of Lin's cloning and sequencing strategy, capable of detecting mutations at levels of 1% or less, such low-level heteroplasmy, or microheteroplasmy, is exceedingly common, and is in fact the most common form of mutational damage to human DNA found to date. In aged adults, each mtDNA copy has on average 3.3 mutations changing protein structure. This exceeds previous estimates by more than three orders of magnitude.
The discovery of microheteroplasmy lends support to the mitochondrial theory of aging, and has already been linked to the causation of Parkinson's disease.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Microheteroplasmy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|