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Journal of Applied Genetics 46(4), 2005, pp. 423-428

A modified procedure for quantitative analysis of mtDNA, detecting mtDNA depletion

Anna Weglewska, Joanna Jakobkiewicz-Banecka, Grzegorz Wegrzyn

Abstract: Quantitative analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is crucial for proper diagnosis of diseases that are caused by or associated with mtDNA depletion. However, such a quantitative characterization of mtDNA is not a simple procedure and requires several laboratory steps at which potential errors can accumulate. Here, we describe a modified procedure for quantitative human mtDNA analysis. The procedure is based on using two PCR-amplified, fluorescein-labeled DNA probes, complementary to mtDNA (detection probe) and chromosomal 18S rDNA (reference probe), both of similar length. Thus, equal amounts of these probes can be used and, contrary to previously published procedures, no mtDNA purification (apart from total DNA isolation) or 18S rDNA cloning is necessary for probe preparation. Two separate hybridizations (each with one probe) are suggested instead of one hybridization with both probes; this decreases background signals and enables adjustment of the strength of specific signals from both probes, which is useful in the subsequent densitometric analysis after superimposing of both pictures. Using different DNA amounts for reactions, we have proved that the procedure is quantitative in a broad range of sample DNA concentrations. Moreover, we were able to detect mtDNA depletion unambiguously in tissue samples from patients suffering from diseases caused by dysfunction of mtDNA.

Key words: mtDNA depletion, human disease, mtDNA depletion syndromes, quantitative DNA analysis.

Correspondence: G. Wegrzyn, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, Kladki 24, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland, e-mail:

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