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J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 9;286(49):42360-70. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.307512. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Mgm101 is a Rad52-related protein required for mitochondrial DNA recombination.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.


Homologous recombination is a conserved molecular process that has primarily evolved for the repair of double-stranded DNA breaks and stalled replication forks. However, the recombination machinery in mitochondria is poorly understood. Here, we show that the yeast mitochondrial nucleoid protein, Mgm101, is related to the Rad52-type recombination proteins that are widespread in organisms from bacteriophage to humans. Mgm101 is required for repeat-mediated recombination and suppression of mtDNA fragmentation in vivo. It preferentially binds to single-stranded DNA and catalyzes the annealing of ssDNA precomplexed with the mitochondrial ssDNA-binding protein, Rim1. Transmission electron microscopy showed that Mgm101 forms large oligomeric rings of ∼14-fold symmetry and highly compressed helical filaments. Specific mutations affecting ring formation reduce protein stability in vitro. The data suggest that the ring structure may provide a scaffold for stabilization of Mgm101 by preventing the aggregation of the otherwise unstable monomeric conformation. Upon binding to ssDNA, Mgm101 is remobilized from the rings to form distinct nucleoprotein filaments. These studies reveal a recombination protein of likely bacteriophage origin in mitochondria and support the notion that recombination is indispensable for mtDNA integrity.

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