Progressive increase in mtDNA 3243A>G heteroplasmy causes abrupt transcriptional reprogramming
Wallace hypothesized mitochondrial dysfunction as a central role in a wide range of age-related disorders and various forms of cancer. Steadily rising increases in mitochondrial DNA mutations cause abrupt shifts in diseases. Discrete changes in nuclear gene expression in response to small increases in DNA mutant level are analogous to the phase shifts that is well known in physics: As heat is added, the ice abruptly turns to water or with more heat abruptly to steam. Therefore, a quantitative change that is an increasing proportion of mitochondrial DNA mutation results in a qualitative change which coordinate changes in nuclear gene expression together with discrete changes in clinical symptoms.
Wallace DC (2005) A Mitochondrial Paradigm of Metabolic and Degenerative Diseases, Aging, and Cancer: A Dawn for Evolutionary Medicine. Annu Rev Genet. 2005 ; 39: 359. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.39.110304.095751