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Mol Cell Biol. 1999 Dec;19(12):8201-10.

Dual role of the mitochondrial chaperone Mdj1p in inheritance of mitochondrial DNA in yeast.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Gdansk, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland.


Mdj1p, a homolog of the bacterial DnaJ chaperone protein, plays an essential role in the biogenesis of functional mitochondria in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We analyzed the role of Mdj1p in the inheritance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial genomes were rapidly lost in a temperature-sensitive mdj1 mutant under nonpermissive conditions. The activity of mtDNA polymerase was severely reduced in the absence of functional Mdj1p at a nonpermissive temperature, demonstrating the dependence of the enzyme on Mdj1p. At a permissive temperature, the activity of mtDNA polymerase was not affected by the absence of Mdj1p. However, under these conditions, intact [rho(+)] genomes were rapidly converted to nonfunctional [rho(-)] genomes which were stably propagated in an mdj1 deletion strain. We propose that mtDNA polymerase depends on Mdj1p as a chaperone in order to acquire and/or maintain an active conformation at an elevated temperature. In addition, Mdj1p is required for the inheritance of intact mitochondrial genomes at a temperature supporting optimal growth; this second function appears to be unrelated to the function of Mdj1p in maintaining mtDNA polymerase activity.

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