Editing Mitochondrial DNA

Journal Club July 2023


The Journal Club is a monthly livestream hosted by Dr. Oliver Medvedik which covers the latest aging research papers.The Journal Club is a monthly livestream hosted by Dr. Oliver Medvedik which covers the latest aging research papers.

The Journal Club returns on 25th July at 12:00 Eastern time to the Lifespan.io Facebook channel. Editing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has long been a challenge and systems such as CRISPR, which make editing regular DNA faster and easier, are very difficult to use when it comes to mtDNA. This month we are going to take a look at a new paper where researchers have used a different approach to edit the mtDNA.

Join us as Dr. Oliver Medvedik explores and discusses this new journal paper, as well as taking a look at chimeric proteins in general and the earlier TALE/TALEN gene editing technologies to set the scene for this new research.


A number of mitochondrial diseases in humans are caused by point mutations that could be corrected by base editors, but delivery of CRISPR guide RNAs into the mitochondria is difficult. In this study, we present mitochondrial DNA base editors (mitoBEs), which combine a transcription activator-like effector (TALE)-fused nickase and a deaminase for precise base editing in mitochondrial DNA. Combining mitochondria-localized, programmable TALE binding proteins with the nickase MutH or Nt.BspD6I(C) and either the single-stranded DNA-specific adenine deaminase TadA8e or the cytosine deaminase ABOBEC1 and UGI, we achieve A-to-G or C-to-T base editing with up to 77% efficiency and high specificity. We find that mitoBEs are DNA strand-selective mitochondrial base editors, with editing results more likely to be retained on the nonnicked DNA strand. Furthermore, we correct pathogenic mitochondrial DNA mutations in patient-derived cells by delivering mitoBEs encoded in circular RNAs. mitoBEs offer a precise, efficient DNA editing tool with broad applicability for therapy in mitochondrial genetic diseases.


Yi, Z., Zhang, X., Tang, W. et al. Strand-selective base editing of human mitochondrial DNA using mitoBEsNat Biotechnol (2023)


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About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.