Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Aug 15;24(16):4698-709. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv201. Epub 2015 May 29.
Mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction caused by a heteroplasmic mitochondrial DNA mutation blocks cellular reprogramming.
Mitochondrial dysfunction caused by pathogenic mutations in mitochondrial tRNA genes emerges only when mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) proportions exceed intrinsic pathogenic thresholds; however, little is known about the actual proportions of mutant mtDNA that can affect particular cellular lineage-determining processes. Here, we mainly focused on the effects of mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction caused by m.3243A>G heteroplasmy in MT-TL1 gene on cellular reprogramming. We found that generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) was drastically depressed only by high proportions of mutant mtDNA (≥ 90% m.3243A>G), and these proportions were strongly associated with the degree of induced mitochondrial respiratory dysfunction. Nevertheless, all established iPSCs, even those carrying ∼ 100% m.3243A>G, exhibited an embryonic stem cell-like pluripotent state. Therefore, our findings clearly demonstrate that loss of physiological integrity in mitochondria triggered by mutant mtDNA constitute a roadblock to cellular rejuvenation, but do not affect the maintenance of the pluripotent state.