Mitochondrial DNA rearrangements in human oocytes and embryos

Jason A. Barritt, Carol A. Brenner, Jacques Cohen, Dennis W. Matt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) rearrangements, including more than 150 deletions and insertions, accumulate with age and are responsible for certain neuromuscular diseases. Human oocytes, arrested for up to 50 years, may express certain mtDNA rearrangements possibly affecting function. Investigations have previously shown a single mtDNA rearrangement (dmtDNA4977) in human oocytes. Sequencing of other rearrangements and their correlation with maternal age have not been performed in human oocytes or embryos. Here we use a nested PCR strategy of long followed by short polymerase chain reaction (PCR) that amplifies two-thirds of the mitochondrial genome, mtDNA rearrangements were detected in 50.5% of the oocytes (n = 295) and 32.5% of the embryos (n = 197). This represents a significant difference in the percentage of mtDNA rearrangements between oocytes and embryos (P < 0.0001). Twenty-three novel mtDNA rearrangements with deletions, insertions and duplications were found. There was no significant age-related increase in the percentage of human oocytes or embryos that contained mtDNA rearrangements. Significant reductions in the number of oocytes containing mtDNA rearrangements occurred as oocyte development progressed from germinal vesicle to the mature metaphase II oocyte (P < 0.05). These findings are discussed as they relate to mitochondria, mtpNA, and ATP production in human oocytes and embryos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-933
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA rearrangements
  • Embryos
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Mitochondrial deletions
  • Oocytes


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