Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Physiology and Biophysics

First Advisor

Dr. Raj R. Rao

Second Advisor

Dr. Shilpa Iyer

Third Advisor

Dr. Liya Qiao

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Edward Lesnefsky


Mitochondrial diseases encompass a broad range of devastating disorders that typically affect tissues with high-energy requirements. These disorders have been difficult to diagnose and research because of the complexity of mitochondrial genetics, and the large variability seen among patient populations. We have devised and carried out a mechanistic study to generate a cell based model for Leigh’s disease caused by mitochondrial DNA mutation 8993 T>G. Leigh’s disease is a multi-organ system disorder that depends heavily on the mutation burden seen within various tissues. Using new reprogramming and sequencing technologies, we were able to show that Leigh’s disease patient fibroblasts reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem cells maintain the same level of mutation burden seen in the original patient cell line. Mutation burden was maintained through several passages and spontaneous differentiation. This cell based model could be useful for future pathogenesis studies, or therapeutic drug screenings in a patient and tissue specific manner.


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