Current strategies towards therapeutic manipulation of mtDNA heteroplasmy

Claudia V. Pereira, Carlos T. Moraes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial disease is a multifactorial disorder involving both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. Over the past 20 years, great progress was achieved in the field of gene editing which raised the possibility of partial or complete elimination of mutant mtDNA that causes disease phenotypes. Each cell contains thousands of copies of mtDNA which can be either wild-type (WT) or mutant, a condition called heteroplasmy. As there are multiple copies of mtDNA inside a cell, the percentage of mutant mtDNA can vary and a directional shift in the heteroplasmy ratio towards an increase of WT mtDNA copies would have therapeutic value. Gene editing tools have been adapted to translocate to mitochondria and were able to change heteroplasmy in a predictable manner. These include mitochondrial targeted restriction endonucleases, Zinc-finger nucleases, and TAL-effector nucleases. These procedures could also be adapted to reduce the levels of mutant mtDNA in embryos, offering an option to the controversial mitochondrial replacement techniques during in vitro fertilization. The current strategies to induce heteroplasmy shift of mtDNA and its implications will be comprehensively discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)991-1010
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience - Landmark
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Heteroplasmy
  • MitoZFNs
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Mitotalens
  • Restriction endonucleases
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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