Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are a common cause of genetic disease. Pathogenic mutations in mtDNA are detected in approximately 1 in 250 live births1, 2, 3 and at least 1 in 10,000 adults in the UK are affected by mtDNA disease4. Treatment options for patients with mtDNA disease are extremely limited and are predominantly supportive in nature. Mitochondrial DNA is transmitted maternally and it has been proposed that nuclear transfer techniques may be an approach for the prevention of transmission of human mtDNA disease5, 6. Here we show that transfer of pronuclei between abnormally fertilized human zygotes results in minimal carry-over of donor zygote mtDNA and is compatible with onward development to the blastocyst stage in vitro. By optimizing the procedure we found the average level of carry-over after transfer of two pronuclei is less than 2.0%, with many of the embryos containing no detectable donor mtDNA. We believe that pronuclear transfer between zygotes, as well as the recently described metaphase II spindle transfer, has the potential to prevent the transmission of mtDNA disease in humans.
At a glance
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- Supplementary Information (158K)
This file contains Supplementary Figure 1 with legend and Supplementary Tables 1-2.