MtDNA mutations are one of the hallmarks of ageing and age-related diseases. It is well established that somatic point mutations accumulate in mtDNA of multiple organs and tissues with increasing age and heteroplasmy is universal in mammals. However, the origin of these mutations remains controversial. The long-lasting hypothesis stating that mtDNA mutations emanate from oxidative damage via a self-perpetuating mechanism has been extensively challenged in recent years. Contrary to this initial ascertainment, mtDNA appears to be well protected from action of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through robust protein coating and endomitochondrial microcompartmentalization. Extensive development of scrupulous high-throughput DNA sequencing methods suggests that an imperfect replication process, rather than oxidative lesions are the main sources of mtDNA point mutations, indicating that mtDNA polymerase γ (POLG) might be responsible for the majority of mtDNA mutagenic events. Here, we summarize the recent knowledge in prevention and defence of mtDNA oxidative lesions and discuss the plausible mechanisms of mtDNA point mutation generation and fixation.

You do not currently have access to this content.