Replication of the mitochondrial genome by DNA polymerase γ requires dNTP precursors that are subject to oxidation by reactive oxygen species generated by the mitochondrial respiratory chain. One such oxidation product is 8-oxo-dGTP, which can compete with dTTP for incorporation opposite template adenine to yield A-T to C-G transversions. Recent reports indicate that the ratio of undamaged dGTP to dTTP in mitochondrial dNTP pools from rodent tissues varies from ∼1:1 to >100:1. Within this wide range, we report here the proportion of 8-oxo-dGTP in the dNTP pool that would be needed to reduce the replication fidelity of human DNA polymerase γ. When various in vivo mitochondrial dNTP pools reported previously were used here in reactions performed in vitro, 8-oxo-dGTP was readily incorporated opposite template A and the resulting 8-oxo-G-A mismatch was not proofread efficiently by the intrinsic 3′ exonuclease activity of pol γ. At the dNTP ratios reported in rodent tissues, whether highly imbalanced or relatively balanced, the amount of 8-oxo-dGTP needed to reduce fidelity was <1% of dGTP. Moreover, direct measurements reveal that 8-oxo-dGTP is present at such concentrations in the mitochondrial dNTP pools of several rat tissues. The results suggest that oxidized dNTP precursors may contribute to mitochondrial mutagenesis in vivo, which could contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction and disease
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