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Curr Genet. 2000 Apr;37(4):268-75.

Copper-dependence of mitochondrial DNA rearrangements in Podospora anserina.

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Molekulare Entwicklungsbiologie und Biotechnologie, Botanisches Institut, Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universit├Ąt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Rearrangements of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are a hallmark of senescence in wild-type strains of the ascomycete P. anserina. These rearrangements include the systematic amplification of the first intron (p1-intron) of the cytochrome oxidase subunit-I gene (CoI) as a circular DNA molecule (p1DNA). In addition, deletions and amplifications of other regions of the mtDNA occur. The molecular basis of the underlying processes is not understood in detail. A comparative analysis of the wild-type strain and of the long-lived mutant grisea, affected in the uptake of copper, revealed that mtDNA instabilities are dependent on the availability of cellular copper. In the mutant, the first steps in the corresponding pathway, including the transcription of the CoI gene, the splicing of the p1-intron and the transposition of this mobile element, are not impaired. In contrast, recombination processes between short direct repeats, as well as rearrangements between two tandem intron copies leading to the formation of p1DNA, appear to be affected. Additional copper in the growth medium rescues this molecular phenotype. We suggest that copper is a cofactor of a component of the molecular machinery leading to the characteristic age-related mtDNA rearrangements.

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