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Mom and Mitochondrial DNA Science

Friday, May 03, 2019

On the first Friday of May 2019, with Mother's Day almost here, we celebrate ever-growing awareness with a mitochondria science refresher. Mitochondria are the organelles in energy-dependent cells, including those in ocular, brain, heart, and muscle tissues.

Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited through the maternal line. Any mitochondrial DNA contributed by the father is actively destroyed by programmed cell death after a sperm fuses with an egg. This interesting situation has provided genetics and anthropologists with a useful analytical and measuring tool.

The British Society for Cell Biology suggested in one of their journal articles that mitochondria probably originated billions of years ago when a bacterial cell was engulfed when visiting what was to become a host cell. The bacterial cell was not digested and stayed on in a symbiotic relationship.

"Mitochondria convert chemical energy from nutrients into energy in a form usable to its host cell. The scientific name for this function is oxidative phosphorylation (the addition of a phosphate group to a protein or other organic molecule), and it happens inside the mitochondria. 

This function is also known as the Krebs cycle, and it produces a chemical used by enzymes embedded in the mitochondria inner membrane to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy. In return the host cell provides motherly physical protection and a constant supply of nutrients and oxygen.  

"Recent research indicates that in addition to converting energy, mitochondria play a large part in determining if a cell will die by ordinary cell death (necrosis) or programmed cell death (apoptosis). In apoptosis the mitochondrion releases a chemical called cytochrome C, and this triggers programmed cell death.

"Mitochondria are thought to influence, by exercising a veto, which eggs in a women should be released during ovulation and which should be destroyed by programmed cell death. It appears that in this process mitochondria and the nucleus of the host cell are screened for biochemical compatibility. The pairs that are incompatible are shut down by programmed cell death.

"Mitochondria also produce waste products called reactive oxygen species (ROS) that include free radicals that can damage DNA mitochondrial, which becomes the source of mitochondrial disease affecting areas of high-energy demand including the eye, brain, muscles, and central nervous system."

A review published in Molecular Aspects of Medicine on more than 130 biochemistry, molecular biology and nutrition peer-reviewed journal articles suggests that optimal metabolic function of mitochondria depends on the availability of many essential minerals, vitamins, and other metabolites. 

Unfortunately, mitochondrial micronutrient deficiencies are widespread in the US population, and these deficiencies are associated with most degenerative disease processes. 

Ellen Troyer and the Biosyntrx staff


Your mitochondrial DNA tells the direct line story of your mother's mother's mother's heritage - all the way back as far as we can go -beyond genealogy-to the woman from whom we are all descended that we call "mitochondrial Eve." Only females pass mitochondrial DNA on to their children, so all children carry their mother's DNA. 

Males inherit mtDNA from their mother but do not pass it on to their children. Males, however, inherit Y-DNA from their father. They pass Y-DNA to their sons, but not their daughters. 


Clinical references available in the Biosyntrx office.