Loss of mitochondrial DNA under genotoxic stress conditions in the absence of the yeast DNA helicase Pif1p occurs independently of the DNA helicase Rrm3p

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How the cellular amount of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is regulated under normal conditions and in the presence of genotoxic stress is less understood. We demonstrate that the inefficient mtDNA replication process of mutant yeast cells lacking the PIF1 DNA helicase is partly rescued in the absence of the DNA helicase RRM3. The rescue effect is likely due to the increase in the deoxynucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) pool caused by the lack of RRM3. In contrast, the Pif1p-dependent mtDNA breakage in the presence and absence of genotoxic stress is not suppressed if RRM3 is lacking suggesting that this phenotype is likely independent of the dNTP pool. Pif1 protein (Pif1p) was found to stimulate the incorporation of dNTPs into newly synthesised mtDNA of gradient-purified mitochondria. We propose that Pif1p that acts likely as a DNA helicase in mitochondria affects mtDNA replication directly. Possible roles of Pif1p include the resolution of secondary DNA and/or DNA/RNA structures, the temporarily displacement of tightly bound mtDNA-binding proteins, or the stabilization of the mitochondrial replication complex during mtDNA replication.

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