iPSC culture expansion selects against putatively actionable mutations in the mitochondrial genome

. 2021 Sep 14;S2213-6711(21)00434-3.

doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2021.08.016.

Online ahead of print.


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Maike Kosanke et al.

Stem Cell Reports.



Therapeutic application of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derivatives requires comprehensive assessment of the integrity of their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to exclude oncogenic potential and functional deficits. It is unknown, to which extent mtDNA variants originate from their parental cells or from de novo mutagenesis, and whether dynamics in heteroplasmy levels are caused by inter- and intracellular selection or genetic drift. Sequencing of mtDNA of 26 iPSC clones did not reveal evidence for de novo mutagenesis, or for any selection processes during reprogramming or differentiation. Culture expansion, however, selected against putatively actionable mtDNA mutations. Altogether, our findings point toward a scenario in which intracellular selection of mtDNA variants during culture expansion shapes the mutational landscape of the mitochondrial genome. Our results suggest that intercellular selection and genetic drift exert minor impact and that the bottleneck effect in context of the mtDNA genetic pool might have been overestimated.


genomic integrity; induced pluripotent stem cells; mitochondrial genome; prolonged expansion culture; reprogramming; selection; small-scale mutations.

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