Suppression of mitochondrial transcription initiation complexes changes the balance of replication intermediates of mitochondrial DNA and reduces 7S DNA in cultured human cells

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Analysis of replicating mammalian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) suggested that initiation of the replication occurs not only at the specific position, Ori-H but also across a broad zone in mtDNA. We investigated relationship of mitochondrial transcription initiation which takes place upstream of Ori-H and mtDNA replication initiation through analysing the effect of knockdown of mitochondrial transcription factor B2, TFB2M and mitochondrial RNA polymerase, POLRMT, components of the transcription initiation complexes in cultured human cells. Under the conditions where suppression of the transcription initiation complexes was achieved by simultaneous depletion of TFB2M and POLRMT, decrease of replication intermediates of mtDNA RITOLS replication mode accompanied reduction in mtDNA copy number. On the other hand, replication intermediates of coupled leading and lagging strand DNA replication, another proposed replication mode, appeared to be less affected. The findings support the view that the former mode involves transcription from the light strand promoter (LSP), and suggest that initiation of the latter mode is independent from the transcription and has distinct regulation. Further, knockdown of TFB2M alone caused significant decrease of 7S DNA, which implies that transcription initiation complexes formed at the LSP engage 7S DNA synthesis more frequently than the initiation of productive replication and transcription.

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