Mitochondrial DNA copy number influences DNA methylation and nuclear gene expression profiles

Lead researcher

Professor Jus St. John

Main finding

We have shown using a brain tumour model that the amount of mitochondrial DNA in a tumour cell can impact on the rate of tumour formation and affect which nuclear genes are expressed in the tumours. The changes in gene expression are the result of differences in mitochondrial DNA copy number influencing the DNA methylation patterns of the affected genes.


Centre for Cancer Research

Research group

Mitochondrial Genetics Group


Xin Sun and Jus St. John

Journal and article title

Most surprising

Our results show that the interactions between the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes are important for cell development and function.

Future implications

When we study disease at a genomic level, we need to consider the impact of both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes.

Disease/health impact