Graphical Abstract - Similarity to native-mtDNA control

As reported by UCLA Health News, scientists from the Teitell Lab have pioneered a groundbreaking method for transferring isolated mitochondria and their associated mitochondrial DNA into mammalian cells. This innovative technology, named MitoPunch, allows simultaneous transfer into 100,000 or more recipient cells, a remarkable improvement over existing methods. The device is part of UCLA's ongoing efforts to understand mitochondrial DNA mutations, offering controlled approaches to enhance cell function and model human mitochondrial diseases effectively.

Dr. Alexander Patananan, a co-lead author and postdoctoral scholar, underlines MitoPunch's ability to engineer non-immortal, non-malignant cells, such as human skin cells, generating unique mitochondrial DNA-nuclear genome combinations. This advancement enables the study of specific mitochondrial DNA sequences' impact on cell functions, facilitating the reprogramming of these cells into induced pluripotent stem cells and subsequent differentiation into functioning fat, cartilage, and bone cells.

Dr. Michael Teitell, Director of the Jonsson Cancer Center and senior author of the study, emphasizes the significance of MitoPunch in studying the mitochondrial genome efficiently. Unlike its predecessor, the photothermal nanoblade, MitoPunch operates with simplicity, using pressure to propel mitochondria through a porous membrane, enabling their direct entry into recipient cells. Teitell envisions MitoPunch unlocking the basic biology governing various cell functions and offering hope for treating mitochondrial DNA diseases.

The research, published in Cell Reports, was supported by institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Human Performance and Biosystems division. This groundbreaking development showcases the collaborative efforts in advancing mitochondrial research and potential therapeutic avenues for mitochondrial DNA-related disorders.