Mitochondria is known to be the power house of the cell and it’s also known to follow maternal inheritance. The cells in our body use energy in the form of ATP which is produced by the mitochondria, thus giving it the name “Powerhouse of the cell”. Mitochondria is a very unique organelle in our body. Apart from having its own DNA, it passes on this DNA from generation to generation only through the mothers’ cell, which shows us that there is no paternal component. We can trace back our history through the generations because of this.
Until very recently, in the month of November, researchers from China, USA and Taiwan identified families where this pattern of maternal inheritance is not followed. This means that these families have a mix of mitochondrial DNA from maternal and paternal lines, which is very unusual. 17 people of three different families had mitochondrial DNA from both parental sides suggesting that mitochondrial inheritance is not what we believed it to be.
The mitochondrial DNA can be sequenced in many cases which include diseases like Heteroplasmy in the mitochondria. The Cincinati team lead by Taosheng Huang did the same for a few families and found two unrelated family lines with the same kind of pattern of inheritance. Scientists are still working on this case and are still not sure about the cause behind such a pattern of inheritance.
Can this be a new phase for the world of genetics?