Chemists from the University of Melbourne have developed a simple way to analyze the mitochondrial DNA of humans, and a way to find out whether or not the mitochondrial genetic material is related to a person.
The technology is based on the work of geneticist Dr. David Hsieh, who published a paper on the technique at the American Chemical Society’s International Symposium on Molecular Sciences in November last year.
Hsiehs team, led by PhD student Shigenori Okamoto, used the technique to isolate DNA from the genomes of four different people, and found the average rate of DNA extraction was 0.4%.
This means that the researchers obtained less than 1% of the mtDNA from each individual.
The technique is also very simple and easy to understand, and it is easy to use.
In fact, Okamoto and his colleagues have already used the data to create a software that can analyse and identify the DNA of people with mitochondrial diseases.
It is still not clear how many people are affected by mitochondrial diseases, but the researchers think the total number could be between 5-10 million.
“Mitochondrial diseases have an enormous impact on a person’s life,” says Dr. Takuji Kato, a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University to which Okamoto belongs.
“If you can find the DNA in the mitochondria, that means you have a healthy, healthy person.
But if the mitochondrion is diseased, it is likely that the person will suffer from the disease, and that is a huge concern for the general population.”
To identify people with these diseases, the researchers looked for mutations in the mitochondrial genes, which are the “eyes and ears” of the cells.
These mutations make the mitochondrium unable to produce ATP, a chemical that enables the cell to keep producing energy.
Mitochondrion diseases affect one in 100,000 people worldwide, but are rare.
They are mostly diagnosed in the elderly or in people with other genetic disorders.
Okamoto says the researchers used the new technique to analyse a sample of the mitochondrial genome of the four people.
They then extracted the DNA using the method of standard molecular biology, which is essentially using an enzyme to break the DNA.
In this process, the enzyme is released and the resulting DNA is then separated by the polymerase chain reaction.
“In order to be able to do this, we have to have access to the DNA,” Okamoto explains.
“This means that we have only a limited number of cells to analyse.”
Mitochondriodeletons are a group of genes that code for the machinery that makes the mitochondrial cell.
They contain a lot of information about the cell, including its chemical properties and the presence of proteins that help it break down proteins.
These genes are linked to a certain type of cancer in the body, so it is important for the mitochondrial cells to produce them.
The researchers used their technique to extract the DNA from four individuals with mitochondrial disease, with an average age of 62 years, and from three individuals without the disease.
“The technique is quite simple, but it is not easy to analyse the mtDNAs.
The only way we have of knowing how many of the people have the disease is to isolate their mtDNA.
It will not be easy to do that in the future,” Okami says.
“It is also quite complex to perform an analysis on the mtRNA, which the mitochondriodelets produce.
The process is complicated, and in the long term, it will be difficult to find a better way of analysing mtDNA.”
Okamoto hopes that his work will help the MitreGene project to identify more individuals with these disorders, and to develop new methods for the analysis of mtDNA to help people who are affected.
The next step is to work on developing the technique into a practical test.
“We plan to test the results of this technique on more people, but at the moment we have a small sample size to work with,” Okamura says.
The study was published in Nature Communications.
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