Mitochondrial DNA mutation and heteroplasmy in type I leber hereditary optic neuropathy

D. Zhu, E. P. Economou, S. E. Antonarakis, I. H. Maumenee

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39 Scopus citations


Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is a maternally inherited disorder characterized by bilateral acute or subacute loss of central vision, primarily in young males. A G→A single base mutation at 11778nt of the mitochondrial genome which eliminates a SfaNI restriction site [Wallace et al., 1988; Holt et al., 1989; Hotta et al., 1989; Singh et al., 1989; Vilkki et al., 1989; Yoneda et al., 1989; Stone et al., 1990; Lott et al., 1990.] has been found in more than 60% of the families with LHON studied. We studied 25 persons from 4 families with LHON using SfaNI and Mae III digestion of a 201 base pair polymerase chain reaction (PCR) product encompassing the 11778nt mutation. The loss of the SfaNI site and the acquisition of a Mae III site at 11778nt were identified in all maternal relatives of the LHON families studied. The mutation was heteroplasmic in all affected individuals, female carriers, and males at-risk. The heteroplasmy of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was also identified by direct DNA sequencing of PCR amplified mtDNA digested by SfaNI or Mae III. It appears that the proportion of the mutant mtDNA correlates with the severity of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of medical genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • loss of central vision
  • maternally inherited disorder
  • polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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