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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Jan;15(1):580-9.

A persistent RNA-DNA hybrid is formed during transcription at a phylogenetically conserved mitochondrial DNA sequence.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, Beckman Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305-5427.


Critical features of the mitochondrial leading-strand DNA replication origin are conserved from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to humans. These include a promoter and a downstream GC-rich sequence block (CSBII) that encodes rGs within the primer RNA. During in vitro transcription at yeast mitochondrial replication origins, there is stable and persistent RNA-DNA hybrid formation that begins at the 5' end of the rG region. The short rG-dC sequence is the necessary and sufficient nucleic acid element for establishing stable hybrids, and the presence of rGs within the RNA strand of the RNA-DNA hybrid is required. The efficiency of hybrid formation depends on the length of RNA synthesized 5' to CSBII and the type of RNA polymerase employed. Once made, the RNA strand of an RNA-DNA hybrid can serve as an effective primer for mitochondrial DNA polymerase. These results reveal a new mechanism for persistent RNA-DNA hybrid formation and suggest a step in priming mitochondrial DNA replication that requires both mitochondrial RNA polymerase and an rG-dC sequence-specific event to form an extensive RNA-DNA hybrid.

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