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Reviewed August 2006

What is the official name of the MT-ND4L gene?

The official name of this gene is “mitochondrially encoded NADH dehydrogenase 4L.”

MT-ND4L is the gene's official symbol. The MT-ND4L gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the MT-ND4L gene?

The MT-ND4L gene provides instructions for making a protein called NADH dehydrogenase 4L. This protein is part of a large enzyme complex known as complex I, which is active in mitochondria. Mitochondria are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use. These cellular structures produce energy through a process called oxidative phosphorylation, which uses oxygen and simple sugars to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's main energy source.

Complex I is one of several enzyme complexes necessary for oxidative phosphorylation. Within mitochondria, these complexes are embedded in a tightly folded, specialized membrane called the inner mitochondrial membrane. During oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial enzyme complexes carry out chemical reactions that drive the production of ATP. Specifically, they create an unequal electrical charge on either side of the inner mitochondrial membrane through a step-by-step transfer of negatively charged particles called electrons. This difference in electrical charge provides the energy for ATP production.

Complex I is responsible for the first step in the electron transport process, the transfer of electrons from a molecule called NADH to another molecule called ubiquinone. Electrons are then passed from ubiquinone through several other enzyme complexes to provide energy for the generation of ATP.

How are changes in the MT-ND4L gene related to health conditions?

Leber hereditary optic neuropathy - caused by mutations in the MT-ND4L gene

A mutation in the MT-ND4L gene has been identified in several families with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. This mutation, which can be written as T10663C or Val65Ala, changes a single protein building block (amino acid) in the NADH dehydrogenase 4L protein. Specifically, it replaces the amino acid valine with the amino acid alanine at protein position 65.

Researchers have not determined how a mutation in the MT-ND4L gene can lead to the vision loss characteristic of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. This genetic change appears to disrupt the normal activity of complex I in the mitochondrial inner membrane, which may affect the production of ATP. It remains unclear, however, why the effects of this mutation are limited to the nerve that relays visual information from the eye to the brain (the optic nerve). Additional genetic and environmental factors probably contribute to the features of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy.

Where is the MT-ND4L gene located?

The MT-ND4L gene is located in mitochondrial DNA.

Molecular Location in mitochondrial DNA: base pairs 10,469 to 10,765

Overview of gene located on mitochondrial DNA Close-up of gene located on mitochondrial DNA

Where can I find additional information about MT-ND4L?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about MT-ND4L helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the MT-ND4L gene or gene products?

  • Complex I, subunit ND4L
  • mitochondrially encoded NADH 4L
  • MTND4L
  • NADH4L
  • NADH dehydrogenase 4L
  • NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4L
  • NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase chain 4L
  • NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase, subunit ND4L
  • ND4L

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding MT-ND4L?

adenosine triphosphate ; alanine ; amino acid ; ATP ; cell ; charged particles ; dehydrogenase ; electron ; enzyme ; gene ; hereditary ; mitochondria ; molecule ; mutation ; neuropathy ; optic nerve ; oxidative phosphorylation ; oxidoreductase ; oxygen ; phosphorylation ; protein ; subunit ; ubiquinone ; valine

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (5 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: August 2006
Published: March 30, 2015