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      Mitochondrial DNA mutations in disease and aging

      review-article

      1 , , 2

      The Journal of Cell Biology

      The Rockefeller University Press

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          Abstract

          The small mammalian mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is very gene dense and encodes factors critical for oxidative phosphorylation. Mutations of mtDNA cause a variety of human mitochondrial diseases and are also heavily implicated in age-associated disease and aging. There has been considerable progress in our understanding of the role for mtDNA mutations in human pathology during the last two decades, but important mechanisms in mitochondrial genetics remain to be explained at the molecular level. In addition, mounting evidence suggests that most mtDNA mutations may be generated by replication errors and not by accumulated damage.

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          Most cited references 112

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          Essential role for Nix in autophagic maturation of erythroid cells.

          Erythroid cells undergo enucleation and the removal of organelles during terminal differentiation. Although autophagy has been suggested to mediate the elimination of organelles for erythroid maturation, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process remain undefined. Here we report a role for a Bcl-2 family member, Nix (also called Bnip3L), in the regulation of erythroid maturation through mitochondrial autophagy. Nix(-/-) mice developed anaemia with reduced mature erythrocytes and compensatory expansion of erythroid precursors. Erythrocytes in the peripheral blood of Nix(-/-) mice exhibited mitochondrial retention and reduced lifespan in vivo. Although the clearance of ribosomes proceeded normally in the absence of Nix, the entry of mitochondria into autophagosomes for clearance was defective. Deficiency in Nix inhibited the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)), and treatment with uncoupling chemicals or a BH3 mimetic induced the loss of DeltaPsi(m) and restored the sequestration of mitochondria into autophagosomes in Nix(-/-) erythroid cells. These results suggest that Nix-dependent loss of DeltaPsi(m) is important for targeting the mitochondria into autophagosomes for clearance during erythroid maturation, and interference with this function impairs erythroid maturation and results in anaemia. Our study may also provide insights into molecular mechanisms underlying mitochondrial quality control involving mitochondrial autophagy.
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            The genome sequence of Rickettsia prowazekii and the origin of mitochondria.

            We describe here the complete genome sequence (1,111,523 base pairs) of the obligate intracellular parasite Rickettsia prowazekii, the causative agent of epidemic typhus. This genome contains 834 protein-coding genes. The functional profiles of these genes show similarities to those of mitochondrial genes: no genes required for anaerobic glycolysis are found in either R. prowazekii or mitochondrial genomes, but a complete set of genes encoding components of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the respiratory-chain complex is found in R. prowazekii. In effect, ATP production in Rickettsia is the same as that in mitochondria. Many genes involved in the biosynthesis and regulation of biosynthesis of amino acids and nucleosides in free-living bacteria are absent from R. prowazekii and mitochondria. Such genes seem to have been replaced by homologues in the nuclear (host) genome. The R. prowazekii genome contains the highest proportion of non-coding DNA (24%) detected so far in a microbial genome. Such non-coding sequences may be degraded remnants of 'neutralized' genes that await elimination from the genome. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that R. prowazekii is more closely related to mitochondria than is any other microbe studied so far.
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              Mitochondrial transcription factor A regulates mtDNA copy number in mammals.

              Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number regulation is altered in several human mtDNA-mutation diseases and it is also important in a variety of normal physiological processes. Mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) is essential for human mtDNA transcription and we demonstrate here that it is also a key regulator of mtDNA copy number. We initially performed in vitro transcription studies and determined that the human TFAM protein is a poor activator of mouse mtDNA transcription, despite its high capacity for unspecific DNA binding. Next, we generated P1 artificial chromosome (PAC) transgenic mice ubiquitously expressing human TFAM. The introduced human TFAM gene was regulated in a similar fashion as the endogenous mouse Tfam gene and expression of the human TFAM protein in the mouse did not result in down-regulation of the endogenous expression. The PAC-TFAM mice thus had a net overexpression of TFAM protein and this resulted in a general increase of mtDNA copy number. We used a combination of mice with TFAM overexpression and TFAM knockout and demonstrated that mtDNA copy number is directly proportional to the total TFAM protein levels also in mouse embryos. Interestingly, the expression of human TFAM in the mouse results in up-regulation of mtDNA copy number without increasing respiratory chain capacity or mitochondrial mass. It is thus possible to experimentally dissociate mtDNA copy number regulation from mtDNA expression and mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals in vivo. In conclusion, our results provide genetic evidence for a novel role for TFAM in direct regulation of mtDNA copy number in mammals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Cell Biol
                J. Cell Biol
                jcb
                The Journal of Cell Biology
                The Rockefeller University Press
                0021-9525
                1540-8140
                30 May 2011
                : 193
                : 5
                : 809-818
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute for Medical Sciences, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon 443-721, Korea
                [2 ]Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, D-50931 Cologne, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence to Nils-Göran Larsson: larsson@ 123456age.mpg.de
                Article
                201010024
                10.1083/jcb.201010024
                3105550
                21606204
                © 2011 Park and Larsson

                This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

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