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Reviewed May 2014
What is the official name of the MT-TK gene?
The official name of this gene is “mitochondrially encoded tRNA lysine.”
MT-TK is the gene's official symbol. The MT-TK 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-TK gene?
The MT-TK gene provides instructions for making a molecule called a transfer RNA (tRNA), which is a chemical cousin of DNA. Transfer RNAs help assemble protein building blocks (amino acids) into full-length, functioning proteins. The MT-TK gene provides instructions for a specific form of tRNA that is designated as tRNALys. During protein assembly, this molecule attaches to a particular amino acid, lysine (Lys), and inserts it into the appropriate locations in the growing protein.
The tRNALys molecule is present in cellular compartments called mitochondria. These structures convert energy from food into a form that cells can use. Through a process called oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondria use oxygen, simple sugars, and fatty acids to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's main energy source. The tRNALys molecule is involved in the assembly of proteins that carry out oxidative phosphorylation.
In certain cells in the pancreas, called beta cells, mitochondria also play a role in controlling the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. In response to high glucose levels, mitochondria help trigger the release of a hormone called insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels by controlling how much glucose is passed from the blood into cells to be converted into energy.
Does the MT-TK gene share characteristics with other genes?
The MT-TK gene belongs to a family of genes called TRNA (transfer RNAs).
A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.
How are changes in the MT-TK gene related to health conditions?
Genetics Home Reference provides information about Leigh syndrome, which is also associated with changes in the MT-TK gene.
Where is the MT-TK gene located?
The MT-TK gene is located in mitochondrial DNA.
Molecular Location in mitochondrial DNA: base pairs 8,295 to 8,364
(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (
Where can I find additional information about MT-TK?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about MT-TK 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-TK gene or gene products?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
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-TK?
acidosis ; acids ; adenine ; adenosine triphosphate ; amino acid ; ataxia ; ATP ; cardiomyopathy ; cell ; cytosine ; diabetes ; DNA ; epilepsy ; fatty acids ; gene ; glucose ; guanine ; hormone ; inherited ; insulin ; kidney ; lactic acidosis ; Lys ; lysine ; mitochondria ; molecule ; muscle cells ; mutation ; myoclonus ; nervous system ; nucleotide ; oxidative phosphorylation ; oxygen ; pancreas ; phosphorylation ; protein ; RNA ; syndrome ; thymine ; transfer RNA ; tRNA
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (13 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.