Image reproduced from Dumollard et al. (2004). Development131, 3057–3067.

Image reproduced from Dumollard et al. (2004). Development131, 3057–3067.

Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) contribute to several prevalent disorders such as neurodegenerative disease, diabetes and cancer. Mitochondrial disorders are inherited maternally, since all of the mitochondria in an embryo are derived originally from the egg. Therapy for most mitochondrial disease is limited to mitigating disease symptoms and slowing progression. Tachibana et al. present a technique to transfer mitochondria-free nuclear DNA from one egg into a denucleated egg in rhesus macaque monkeys. After fertilization, the eggs develop into healthy offspring with mtDNA and nuclear DNA from unique female origins. DNA tests confirmed the absence of mtDNA from the female nuclear donor. These results demonstrate a potential method for bypassing the normal mechanisms of mitochondrial inheritance.

Tachibana
M
,
Sparman
M
,
Sritanaudomchai
H
,
Ma
H
,
Clepper
L
,
Woodward
J
,
Li
Y
,
Ramsey
C
,
Kolotushkina
O
,
Mitalipov
S
(
2009
).
Mitochondrial gene replacement in primate offspring and embryonic stem cells
.
Nature
461
,
367
372
.