How genetic changes cause mito

Genes control the way you look and the way your body functions. Your physical features are the result of your genes, which you inherited from your parents. Genetic changes can lead to conditions such as mitochondrial disease (mito).

Key Points

  • Your genes are stored in your cells
  • There are about 25,000 genes in every cell
  • Genes are passed from parents to children
  • Genes make each of us unique
  • Genes control the way you look and how your body functions
  • Proteins are the building blocks of your body
  • Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells
  • Each cells has lots of mitochondria
  • Genetic changes can cause mito in different ways
  • It’s helpful for your doctor to know about your family history

Download the Genetics and Mito fact sheet if you’d like to read more

Cells and genes

Your body is made up of 40 trillion cells, and your genes are stored in your cells. We all have about 25,000 genes in every cell.

Each cell contains a complete blueprint of your genetic plan, packaged in the form of genes, that allows your body to function. The genes you’ve inherited from your parents made you a uniquely individual person.

Mother with children

How genetic variation causes mito

If there are changes in our genetic code, it can cause certain conditions, including mito.

Mito occurs when genetic changes lead to incomplete or missing proteins in the mitochondria. These genetic variations stop the mitochondria from producing enough energy for your body, causing the symptoms of mito.

Different types of genetic inheritance

Mito is usually inherited from your parents. This can happen in a few different ways:

  • Dominant or recessive: Mito genes can be either dominant or recessive. The dominant gene will always overrule the non-dominant, or recessive, gene.
  • Gender: Mito genes can be linked to genes that decide gender.
  • Maternal genes: Mitochondrial DNA is only passed down from the mother.
  • Spontaneous changes: Some genetic variations that cause mito can happen spontaneously when eggs and sperm are formed.
Genetic Inheritance Diagram

Understanding your family history

It’s helpful for your doctor to understand your family history. Before you see your doctor, gather as much information about your family history as you can.

This will help them work out what type of mito may run in your family, your risk of passing mito on to your children, and whether other people in your family may carry the genes.

Discussing your family history with a genetic counsellor can help you get more information about mito and how it may affect your family.

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