Sharing Of Heteroplasmies Between Human Liver Lobes Varies Across The MtDNA Genome
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) heteroplasmy (intra-individual variation) varies among different human tissues and increases with age, suggesting that the majority of mtDNA heteroplasmies are acquired, rather than inherited. However, the extent to which heteroplasmic sites are shared across a tissue remains an open question. We therefore investigated heteroplasmy in two liver samples (one from each primary lobe) from 83 Europeans, sampled at autopsy. Minor allele frequencies (MAF) at heteroplasmic sites were significantly correlated between the two liver samples from an individual, with significantly more sharing of heteroplasmic sites in the control region than in the coding region. We show that this increased sharing for the control region cannot be explained by recent mutations at just a few specific heteroplasmic sites or by the possible presence of 7S DNA. Moreover, we carried out simulations to show that there is significantly more sharing than would be predicted from random genetic drift from a common progenitor cell. We also observe a significant excess of non-synonymous vs. synonymous heteroplasmies in the coding region, but significantly more sharing of synonymous heteroplasmies. These contrasting patterns for the control vs. the coding region, and for non-synonymous vs. synonymous heteroplasmies, suggest that selection plays a role in heteroplasmy sharing.