Simplified qPCR method for detecting excessive mtDNA damage induced by exogenous factors
Polymerase Chain Reaction
Damage to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a meaningful biomarker for evaluating genotoxicity of drugs and environmental toxins. Existing PCR methods utilize long mtDNA fragments (∼8-10kb), which complicates detecting exact sites of mtDNA damage. To identify the mtDNA regions most susceptible to damage, we have developed and validated a set of primers to amplify ∼2kb long fragments, while covering over 95% of mouse mtDNA. We have modified the detection method by greatly increasing the enrichment of mtDNA, which allows us solving the problem of non-specific primer annealing to nuclear DNA. To validate our approach, we have determined the most damage-susceptible mtDNA regions in mice treated in vivo and in vitro with rotenone and H2O2. The GTGR-sequence-enriched mtDNA segments located in the D-loop region were found to be especially susceptible to damage. Further, we demonstrate that H2O2-induced mtDNA damage facilitates the relaxation of mtDNA supercoiled conformation, making the sequences with minimal damage more accessible to DNA polymerase, which, in turn, results in a decrease in threshold cycle value. Overall, our modified PCR method is simpler and more selective to the specific sites of damage in mtDNA.