Investigating the influence of mtDNA and nuclear encoded mitochondrial variants on high intensity interval training outcomes

N R Harvey, S Voisin, R A Lea, X Yan, M C Benton, I D Papadimitriou, M Jacques, L M Haupt, K J Ashton, N Eynon, L R Griffiths

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Mitochondria supply intracellular energy requirements during exercise. Specific mitochondrial haplogroups and mitochondrial genetic variants have been associated with athletic performance, and exercise responses. However, these associations were discovered using underpowered, candidate gene approaches, and consequently have not been replicated. Here, we used whole-mitochondrial genome sequencing, in conjunction with high-throughput genotyping arrays, to discover novel genetic variants associated with exercise responses in the Gene SMART (Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Training) cohort (n = 62 completed). We performed a Principal Component Analysis of cohort aerobic fitness measures to build composite traits and test for variants associated with exercise outcomes. None of the mitochondrial genetic variants but eight nuclear encoded variants in seven separate genes were found to be associated with exercise responses (FDR < 0.05) (rs11061368: DIABLO, rs113400963: FAM185A, rs6062129 and rs6121949: MTG2, rs7231304: AFG3L2, rs2041840: NDUFAF7, rs7085433: TIMM23, rs1063271: SPTLC2). Additionally, we outline potential mechanisms by which these variants may be contributing to exercise phenotypes. Our data suggest novel nuclear-encoded SNPs and mitochondrial pathways associated with exercise response phenotypes. Future studies should focus on validating these variants across different cohorts and ethnicities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11089
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2020


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