Multiple origins of a mitochondrial mutation conferring deafness

Timothy P. Hutchin, Gino A Cortopassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A point mutation (1555G) in the smaller ribosomal subunit of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been associated with maternally inherited traits of hypersensitivity to streptomycin and sensorineural deafness in a number of families from China, Japan, Israel, and Africa. To determine whether this distribution was the result of a single or multiple mutational events, we carried out genetic distance analysis and phylogenetic analysis of 10 independent mtDNA D-loop sequences from Africa and Asia. The mtDNA sequence diversity was high (2.21%). Phylogenetic analysis assigned 1555G- bearing haplotypes at very divergent points in the human mtDNA evolutionary tree, and the 1555G mutations occur in many cases on race-specific mtDNA haplotypes, both facts are inconsistent with a recent introgression of the mutation into these races. The simplest interpretation of the available data is that there have been multiple origins of the 1555G mutation. The genetic distance among mtDNAs bearing the pathogenic 1555G mutation is much larger than among mtDNAs bearing either evolutionarily neutral or weakly deleterious nucleotide substitutions (such as the 4336G mutation). These results are consistent with the view that pathogenic mtDNA haplotypes such as 1555G arise on disparate mtDNA lineages which because of negative natural selection leave relatively few related descendants. The co-existence of the same mutation with deafness in individuals with very different nuclear and mitochondrial genetic backgrounds confirms the pathogenicity of the 1555G mutation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-776
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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