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Exp Physiol. 2003 Jan;88(1):33-40.

Regulation and co-ordination of nuclear gene expression during mitochondrial biogenesis.

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Institute of Vegetative Physiology, University of Koln, Robert-Koch-Strase 39, 50931 Koln, Germany.


Biogenesis of mitochondria is happening constantly due to the physiological and developmental situation of a cell. As mitochondrial biogenesis is a complex process producing about 20 % of cellular protein, the expression of the 1000 genes involved is expected to be coordinated and regulated tightly. The variety of physiological stimuli and differentiation states lead to the idea of a complex network connecting many different regulatory pathways. By analysing nuclear encoded mitochondrial genes some of the factors involved in the regulation and coordination of mitochondrial gene expression were identified. These factors include general transcription factors such as Sp1 or YY1, as well as transcription factors specific for mitochondrial genes like the nuclear respiratory factors NRF1 and 2. An important control function linked to the physiological situation of a cell is triggered by hormones such as steroid and thyroid hormones. Even cell type-specific regulatory proteins like the myogenin transcription factor family have a strong influence on some mitochondrial genes in the specific cellular background. The regulatory function of most of these proteins can be modulated and enhanced by the coactivators PGC-1a and b and PRC. Although regulatory pathways have been characterized in more detail in recent years, no regulation mechanism has been shown to work on all analysed mitochondrial genes, and the general concept of mitochondrial regulation still remains unclear.

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