The purpose of this project is to address the biological significance and mechanisms of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) recombination.
The existence of mtDNA recombination remains controversial as, due to the maternal inheritance of mtDNA, detecting its
recombination by genetic means is not possible. However, besides generating novel gamete genotypes, recombination is also an extremely important means of DNA repair that should be essential also for mitochondria. In the proposed project, I will use a novel mouse model with two different mtDNA genotypes in same cell to detect and study mtDNA recombination mechanisms as they happen, as well as to develop molecular beacons to monitor mtDNA recombination in living cells.
Besides settling the controversy, the results of the project will provide valuable insight into the basic biology of mtDNA maintenance, help to understand the generation of pathological mtDNA rearrangements in humans and provide tools for its genetic modification.