Structure of human mitochondrial RNA polymerase
ABSTRACT Transcription of the mitochondrial genome is performed by a single-subunit RNA polymerase (mtRNAP) that is distantly related to the RNAP of bacteriophage T7, the pol I family of DNA polymerases, and single-subunit RNAPs from chloroplasts. Whereas T7 RNAP can initiate transcription by itself, mtRNAP requires the factors TFAM and TFB2M for binding and melting promoter DNA. TFAM is an abundant protein that binds and bends promoter DNA 15-40 base pairs upstream of the transcription start site, and stimulates the recruitment of mtRNAP and TFB2M to the promoter. TFB2M assists mtRNAP in promoter melting and reaches the active site of mtRNAP to interact with the first base pair of the RNA-DNA hybrid. Here we report the X-ray structure of human mtRNAP at 2.5 Å resolution, which reveals a T7-like catalytic carboxy-terminal domain, an amino-terminal domain that remotely resembles the T7 promoter-binding domain, a novel pentatricopeptide repeat domain, and a flexible N-terminal extension. The pentatricopeptide repeat domain sequesters an AT-rich recognition loop, which binds promoter DNA in T7 RNAP, probably explaining the need for TFAM during promoter binding. Consistent with this, substitution of a conserved arginine residue in the AT-rich recognition loop, or release of this loop by deletion of the N-terminal part of mtRNAP, had no effect on transcription. The fingers domain and the intercalating hairpin, which melts DNA in phage RNAPs, are repositioned, explaining the need for TFB2M during promoter melting. Our results provide a new venue for the mechanistic analysis of mitochondrial transcription. They also indicate how an early phage-like mtRNAP lost functions in promoter binding and melting, which were provided by initiation factors in trans during evolution, to enable mitochondrial gene regulation and the adaptation of mitochondrial function to changes in the environment.
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ABSTRACT: The MTERF protein family comprises members from Metazoans and plants. All the Metazoan MTERF proteins characterized to date, including the mitochondrial transcription termination factors, play a key role in mitochondrial gene expression. In this study we report the characterization of Drosophila MTERF5 (D-MTERF5), a mitochondrial protein existing only in insects, probably originated from a duplication event of the transcription termination factor DmTTF. D-MTERF5 knock-down in D.Mel-2 cells alters transcript levels with an opposite pattern to that produced by DmTTF knock-down. D-MTERF5 is able to interact with mtDNA at the same sites contacted by DmTTF, but only in the presence of the termination factor. We propose that the two proteins participate in the transcription termination process, with D-MTERF5 engaged in relieving the block exerted by DmTTF. This hypothesis is supported also by D-MTERF5 homology modeling, which suggests that this protein contains protein-protein interaction domains. Co-regulation by DREF (DNA Replication-related Element binding Factor) of D-MTERF5 and DmTTF implies that expression of the two factors needs to be co-ordinated to ensure fine modulation of Drosophila mitochondrial transcription.Mitochondrion 07/2012; 12(5):492-9. DOI:10.1016/j.mito.2012.06.010 · 3.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Transcription of the human mitochondrial genome is required for the expression of 13 subunits of the respiratory chain complexes involved in oxidative phosphorylation, which is responsible for meeting the cells' energy demands in the form of ATP. Also transcribed are the two rRNAs and 22 tRNAs required for mitochondrial translation. This process is accomplished, with the help of several accessory proteins, by the human mitochondrial RNA polymerase (POLRMT, also known as h-mtRNAP), a nuclear-encoded single-subunit DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (DdRp or RNAP) that is distantly related to the bacteriophage T7 class of single-subunit RNAPs. In addition to its role in transcription, POLRMT serves as the primase for mitochondrial DNA replication. Therefore, this enzyme is of fundamental importance for both expression and replication of the human mitochondrial genome. Over the past several years rapid progress has occurred in understanding POLRMT and elucidating the molecular mechanisms of mitochondrial transcription. Important accomplishments include development of recombinant systems that reconstitute human mitochondrial transcription in vitro, determination of the X-ray crystal structure of POLRMT, identification of distinct mechanisms for promoter recognition and transcription initiation, elucidation of the kinetic mechanism for POLRMT-catalyzed nucleotide incorporation and discovery of unique mechanisms of mitochondrial transcription inhibition including the realization that POLRMT is an off target for antiviral ribonucleoside analogs. This review summarizes the current understanding of POLRMT structure-function, mechanism and inhibition. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Mitochondrial Gene Expression.Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/2012; 1819(9-10):948-60. DOI:10.1016/j.bbagrm.2012.04.002 · 4.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: A maize gene designated thylakoid assembly 8 (tha8) emerged from a screen for nuclear mutations that cause defects in the biogenesis of chloroplast thylakoid membranes. The tha8 gene encodes an unusual member of the pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) family, a family of helical repeat proteins that participate in various aspects of organellar RNA metabolism. THA8 localizes to chloroplasts, where it associates specifically with the ycf3-2 and trnA group II introns. The splicing of ycf3-2 is eliminated in tha8 mutants, and trnA splicing is strongly compromised. Reverse-genetic analysis of the tha8 ortholog in Arabidopsis thaliana showed that these molecular functions are conserved, although null alleles are embryo lethal in Arabidopsis and seedling lethal in maize. Whereas most PPR proteins have more than 10 PPR motifs, THA8 belongs to a subfamily of plant PPR proteins with only four PPR motifs and little else. THA8 is the first member of this subfamily with a defined molecular function, and illustrates that even small PPR proteins have the potential to mediate specific intermolecular interactions in vivo.RNA 04/2012; 18(6):1197-209. DOI:10.1261/rna.032623.112 · 4.62 Impact Factor