The A3243G mitochondrial mutation is the major cause of mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). The severity of the disease is correlated with the heteroplasmy level of the mutation. Here we describe for the first time the validation of a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay with Taqman locked nucleic acid (LNA) fluorescent (FAM for mutant, HEX for wild type) probes for quantification of heteroplasmy levels in a total of 18 family members from 5 Vietnamese MELAS patients carrying A3243G. Almost no background of FAM signals was detected in normal samples, indicating that the probes were allele-specific. Standard curves indicate sensitive detection at 0.1% mutants and high reliability with R2 > 0.985. The correlation line between measured % mutant and expected % mutant was highly reliable, with a slope of 0.993 and R2 of 0.998. All positive A3243G mutant samples pre-screened by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) were confirmed, and their heteroplasmy levels quantified to be from 3.68 to 80.85%. The heteroplasmy levels in patients were higher than in their family members and generally correlated well with the severity of their clinical symptoms. Overall, this work is the first demonstration of the application of LNA probes for sensitive and highly reliable quantification of heteroplasmy levels in human mitochondria.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.