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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2000 Dec;32(6):627-34.

Proliferation of mitochondria in chronically stimulated rabbit skeletal muscle--transcription of mitochondrial genes and copy number of mitochondrial DNA.

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Department of Physiology II, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuen heimer Feld 326, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Mitochondrial proliferation was studied in chronically stimulated rabbit skeletal muscle over a period of 50 days. After this time, subunits of COX had increased about fourfold. Corresponding mRNAs, encoded on mitochondrial DNA as well as on nuclear genes, were unchanged when related to total tissue RNA, however, they were elevated two- to fivefold when the massive increase of ribosomes per unit mass of muscle was taken into account. The same was true for the mRNA encoding mitochondrial transcription factor A. Surprisingly, tissue levels of mtTFA protein were reduced about twofold, together with mitochondrial DNA. In conclusion, mitochondria are able to maintain high rates of mitochondrial transcription even in the presence of reduced mtTFA protein and mtDNA levels. Therefore, stimulated mtTFA gene expression accompanies stimulated mitochondrial transcription, as in other models, but it is not sufficient for an increase of mtDNA copy number and other, yet unknown, factors have to be postulated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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