Test Catalog

Test ID: MITOP    
Mitochondrial Full Genome Analysis, Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), Varies

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosis of the subset of mitochondrial diseases that results from variants in the mitochondrial genome


A second-tier test for patients in whom previous targeted gene variant analyses for specific mitochondrial disease-related genes were negative


Identifying variants within genes of the mitochondrial genome that are known to be associated with mitochondrial disease, allowing for predictive testing of at-risk family members

Genetics Test Information Provides information that may help with selection of the correct genetic test or proper submission of the test request

Testing Algorithm Delineates situations when tests are added to the initial order. This includes reflex and additional tests.

If skin biopsy is received, fibroblast culture and cryopreservation for biochemical studies will be added at an additional charge.


The following algorithms are available in Special Instructions:

 -Epilepsy: Unexplained Refractory and/or Familial Testing Algorithm

-Neuromuscular Myopathy Testing Algorithm

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

The mitochondrion occupies a unique position in eukaryotic biology. First, it is the site of energy metabolism, without which aerobic metabolism and life as we know it would not be possible. Second, it is the sole subcellular organelle that is composed of proteins derived from 2 genomes, mitochondrial and nuclear. A group of hereditary disorders due to variants in either the mitochondrial genome or nuclear mitochondrial genes have been well characterized.


The diagnosis of mitochondrial disease can be particularly challenging as the presentation can occur at any age, involving virtually any organ system, and with widely varying severities. This test utilizes massively parallel sequencing, also termed next-generation sequencing (NGS), to determine the exact sequence of the entire 16,569 base-pair mitochondrial genome. The utility of this test is to assist in the diagnosis of the subset of mitochondrial diseases that result from variants in the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA). This includes certain types of myopathies and neuro-ophthalmologic diseases, such as mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, stroke-like episodes (MELAS), myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibers (MERRF), mitochondrial myopathy (MM), neurogenic muscle weakness, ataxia, retinitis pigmentosa (NARP), Leigh syndrome, Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), and chronic progressive external ophthalmoplegia (CPEO). In addition to the detection of single base changes with these disorders, large deletions, such as those associated with Kearns-Sayre or Pearson syndromes, are also detected. Variants in mitochondrial proteins that are encoded by genes in the nucleus, such as the enzymes of fatty acid oxidation, are not detected using this test.


In contrast to variants in nuclear genes, which are present in either 0, 1, or 2 copies, mitochondrial variants can be present in any fraction of the total organelles, a phenomenon known as heteroplasmy. Typically, the severity of disease presentation is a function of the degree of heteroplasmy. Individuals with a higher fraction of altered mitochondria present with more severe disease than those with lower percentages of altered alleles. The sensitivity for the detection of altered alleles in a background of wild-type (or normal) mitochondrial sequences by NGS is approximately 10%.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

An interpretive report will be provided.

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

All detected alterations are evaluated according to American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics recommendations.(1) Variants are classified based on known, predicted, or possible pathogenicity and reported with interpretive comments detailing their potential or known significance. The degree of heteroplasmy of each single nucleotide or INDEL (insertion/deletion) variant, defined as the ratio (percentage) of variant sequence reads to the total number of reads, will also be reported. Large deletions will be reported as either homoplasmic or heteroplasmic, but the degree of heteroplasmy will not be estimated, due to possible preferential amplification of the smaller deletion product by long-range PCR.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Clinical Correlations:

A small percentage of individuals who have mitochondrial genome involvement may have a variant that is not identified by the methods performed. The absence of a variant, therefore, does not eliminate the possibility of a mitochondrial disease due to variant in the mitochondrial genome. Variants in mitochondrial genes encoded by the nuclear genome will not be detected with this assay. For predictive testing of asymptomatic individuals, it is important to first document the presence of a gene variant in an affected family member.


Test results should be interpreted in the context of clinical findings, family history, and other laboratory data. Misinterpretation of results may occur if the information provided is inaccurate or incomplete.


Technical Limitations:

In some cases, DNA variants of undetermined significance may be identified.


Rare alterations exist that could lead to false-negative or false-positive results. If results obtained do not match the clinical findings, additional testing should be considered.


Evaluation Tools:

Multiple in-silico evaluation tools were used to assist in the interpretation of these results. These tools are updated regularly; therefore, changes to these algorithms may result in different predictions for a given alteration. Additionally, the predictability of these tools for the determination of pathogenicity is currently unvalidated.


Unless reported or predicted to cause disease, alterations in protein coding genes that do not result in an amino acid substitution are not reported. The mitochondrial haplogroup classification of the patient will be reported, but the individual nucleotide changes that define the haplogroup will not be reported. These and common alterations identified for this patient are available upon request.


Reclassification of Variants-Policy:

At this time, it is not standard practice for the laboratory to systematically review likely deleterious alterations or variants of uncertain significance that are detected and reported. The laboratory encourages health care providers to contact the laboratory at any time to learn how the status of a particular variant may have changed over time.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Richards S, Aziz N, Bale S, et al: Standards and guidelines for the interpretation of sequence variants: a joint consensus recommendation of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the Association for Molecular Pathology. Genet Med. 2015 May;17(5):405-424

2. Munnich A, Rotig A, Cormier-Daire V, Rustin P: Clinical presentation of respiratory chain deficiency. In: Valle D, Antonarakis S, Ballabio A, Beaudet AL, Mitchell GA eds. The Online Metabolic and Molecular Basis of Inherited Disease. McGraw-Hill; 2019. Accessed September 28, 2020. https://ommbid.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2709&sectionid=225086827

3. Wallace DC, Lott MT, Brown MD, Kerstann K: Mitochondria and neuro-ophthalmologic diseases. In: Valle D, Antonarakis S, Ballabio A, Beaudet AL, Mitchell GA et al, eds. The Online Metabolic and Molecular Basis of Inherited Disease. McGraw-Hill; 2019. Accessed September 28, 2020. https://ommbid.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2709&sectionid=225088522

4. Wong LJ: Molecular genetics of mitochondrial disorders. Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2010 Jun;16(2):154-162

Special Instructions Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test