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EMBO Rep. 2002 May;3(5):451-6. Epub 2002 Apr 18.

Regulation of mitochondrial D-loops by transcription factor A and single-stranded DNA-binding protein.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


During replication, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) takes on a triple-stranded structure called a D-loop. Although their physiological roles are not understood, D-loops are implicated in replication and transcription of mtDNA. Little is known about the turnover of D-loops. We investigated the effects of mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) and single-stranded DNA-binding protein (mtSSB) on D-loops. In human HeLa cells, TFAM and mtSSB are, respectively, 1700- and 3000-fold more abundant than mtDNA. This level of TFAM is two orders of magnitude higher than reported previously and is sufficient to wrap human mtDNA entirely. TFAM resolves D-loops in vitro if added in similar stoichiometries. mtSSB inhibits the resolution of mtDNA by TFAM but enhances resolution by RecG, a junction-specific helicase from Escherichia coli. Hence, mtSSB functions in both stabilization and resolution. We propose that TFAM and mtSSB are cooperatively involved in stabilizing D-loops and in the maintenance of mtDNA.

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