Mutation accumulation in mtDNA of cancers resembles mutagenesis in normal stem cells

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Mitochondria are small organelles that play an essential role in the energy production of eukaryotic cells. Defects in their genomes are associated with diseases, such as aging and cancer. Here, we analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of 532 whole-genome sequencing samples from cancers and normal clonally expanded single cells. We show that the mitochondria of normal cells accumulate mutations with age and that most of the mitochondrial mutations found in cancer are the result of healthy mutation accumulation. We also show that the normal HSPCs of patients with leukemia have an increased mitochondrial mutation load. Finally, we show that secondary pediatric cancers and chemotherapy treatments do not impact the mitochondrial mutation load and mtDNA copy numbers of most cells, suggesting that damage to the mitochondrial genome is not a major driver for carcinogenesis. Overall, these findings may contribute to our understanding of mitochondrial genomes and their role in cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105610
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022


  • Cancer
  • Genomics
  • Stem cells research


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