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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Apr 29;258(1):44-9.

Oxidative stress and upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis genes in mitochondrial DNA-depleted HeLa cells.

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Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla, Santiago, 114-D, Chile.


The signaling mechanism through which deficitary mitochondrial function would activate nuclear genes required for mitochondrial biogenesis, has not been established. To explore the hypothesis that reactive oxygen species (ROS), a mitochondrial product, constitute part of the mitochondria-nuclei signaling pathway, we obtained HeLa cells depleted of mitochondrial DNA (rho0 cells) through exposure to ethidium bromide. We found evidences of oxidative stress in rho0 cells, employing a fluorescent probe and measuring NF-kappaB activation. Nuclear Respiratory Factor-1 (NRF-1) and Mitochondrial Transcription Factor A (Tfam) mRNA were measured by RT-PCR. For both transcription factors, rho0 cells revealed significantly higher levels of mRNA. These results support several hypothesis: that endogenous ROS enhance the expression of nuclear mitochondrial biogenesis genes NRF-1 and Tfam; that DNA deprived mitochondria lead to cellular oxidative stress, probably because of incomplete biogenesis of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, and consequently, that ROS are part of a mitochondria-nuclei regulatory signaling pathway.

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