Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA is a genetic material that comprises mitochondria packaged in chromosomes with its own small amount of DNA. Mitochondria are found as structures within cells.
Their function is to supply energy in a form acceptable to the cell. This energy is obtained from food. Hundreds of thousands of mitochondria are contained in a cell located in the fluid surrounding the nucleus.
The process by which mitochondria convert energy from food is known as oxidative phosphorylation. Oxidative phosphorylation produces a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for which it uses oxygen and simple sugars. ATP is the cell’s primary source of energy. Oxidative phosphorylation is carried out within mitochondria through a set of enzyme complexes known as complexes I-V.
Mitochondria have an important part to play in several other cellular activities apart from merely production of energy. Mitochondria help regulate the ability of cells to self-destruct. They are also required to produce substances like cholesterol and heme. Heme is a component of the molecule hemoglobin that transports oxygen in the blood.
There are 37 genes in mitochondrial DNA all of which are required in the normal and proper functioning of mitochondrial. These genes provide instructions. There are 13 genes that are involved in delivering instructions for the enzymes needed in oxidative phosphorylation. The remaining 24 genes furnish instructions for making molecules named transfer RNAs and ribosomal RNAs. These help in converting protein building blocks into operating proteins. RNAs and tRNAs are connected with DNA and often called the chemical cousins.
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