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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Sep 1;40(17):8392-405. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

Human Cockayne syndrome B protein reciprocally communicates with mitochondrial proteins and promotes transcriptional elongation.

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Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


Cockayne syndrome (CS) is a rare human disorder characterized by pathologies of premature aging, neurological abnormalities, sensorineural hearing loss and cachectic dwarfism. With recent data identifying CS proteins as physical components of mitochondria, we sought to identify protein partners and roles for Cockayne syndrome group B (CSB) protein in this organelle. CSB was found to physically interact with and modulate the DNA-binding activity of the major mitochondrial nucleoid, DNA replication and transcription protein TFAM. Components of the mitochondrial transcription apparatus (mitochondrial RNA polymerase, transcription factor 2B and TFAM) all functionally interacted with CSB and stimulated its double-stranded DNA-dependent adenosine triphosphatase activity. Moreover, we found that patient-derived CSB-deficient cells exhibited a defect in efficient mitochondrial transcript production and that CSB specifically promoted elongation by the mitochondrial RNA polymerase in vitro. These observations provide strong evidence for the importance of CSB in maintaining mitochondrial function and argue that the pathologies associated with CS are in part, a direct result of the roles that CSB plays in mitochondria.

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