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Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(12):4042-54. Epub 2007 Jun 8.

Relative abundance of the human mitochondrial transcription system and distinct roles for h-mtTFB1 and h-mtTFB2 in mitochondrial biogenesis and gene expression.

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Graduate Program in Genetics and Molecular Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 440 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Human mitochondrial transcription requires the bacteriophage-related RNA polymerase, POLRMT, the mtDNA-binding protein, h-mtTFA/TFAM, and two transcription factors/rRNA methyltransferases, h-mtTFB1 and h-mtTFB2. Here, we determined the steady-state levels of these core transcription components and examined the consequences of purposeful elevation of h-mtTFB1 or h-mtTFB2 in HeLa cells. On a per molecule basis, we find an approximately 6-fold excess of POLRMT to mtDNA and approximately 3-fold more h-mtTFB2 than h-mtTFB1. We also estimate h-mtTFA at approximately 50 molecules/mtDNA, a ratio predicted to support robust transcription, but not to coat mtDNA. Consistent with a role for h-mtTFB2 in transcription and transcription-primed replication, increased mitochondrial DNA and transcripts result from its over-expression. This is accompanied by increased translation rates of most, but not all mtDNA-encoded proteins. Over-expression of h-mtTFB1 did not significantly influence these parameters, but did result in increased mitochondrial biogenesis. Furthermore, h-mtTFB1 mRNA and protein are elevated in response to h-mtTFB2 over-expression, suggesting the existence of a retrograde signal to the nucleus to coordinately regulate expression of these related factors. Altogether, our results provide a framework for understanding the regulation of human mitochondrial transcription in vivo and define distinct roles for h-mtTFB1 and h-mtTFB2 in mitochondrial biogenesis and gene expression that together likely fine-tune mitochondrial function.

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