Human cells lacking mtDNA: repopulation with exogenous mitochondria by complementation

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Science  27 Oct 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4929, pp. 500-503
DOI: 10.1126/science.2814477


Two human cell lines (termed rho 0), which had been completely depleted of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) by long-term exposure to ethidium bromide, were found to be dependent on uridine and pyruvate for growth because of the absence of a functional respiratory chain. Loss of either of these two metabolic requirements was used as a selectable marker for the repopulation of rho 0 cells with exogenous mitochondria by complementation. Transformants obtained with various mitochondrial donors exhibited a respiratory phenotype that was in most cases distinct from that of the rho 0 parent or the donor, indicating that the genotypes of the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes as well as their specific interactions play a role in the respiratory competence of a cell.

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