Available only for arXiv papers.
Metabolic syndrome is a growing concern in developed societies, and due to its polygenic nature, the genetic component is only slowly being elucidated. Common mitochondrial DNA sequence variants have been associated with symptoms of metabolic syndrome and may be relevant players in the genetics of metabolic syndrome. We investigate the effect of mitochondrial sequence variation on the metabolic phenotype in conplastic rat strains with identical nuclear but unique mitochondrial genomes, challenged by high-fat diet. We find that the variation in mitochondrial rRNA sequence represents a risk factor in insulin resistance development, which is caused by diacylglycerols accumulation induced by tissue-specific reduction of the oxidative capacity. These metabolic perturbations stem from the 12S rRNA sequence variation affecting mitochondrial ribosome assembly and translation. Our work demonstrates that physiological variation in mitochondrial rRNA might represent a relevant underlying factor in the progression of metabolic syndrome.