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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan;41(2):1223-40. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks1130. Epub 2012 Dec 5.

Human mitochondrial RNA decay mediated by PNPase-hSuv3 complex takes place in distinct foci.

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Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland.


RNA decay is usually mediated by protein complexes and can occur in specific foci such as P-bodies in the cytoplasm of eukaryotes. In human mitochondria nothing is known about the spatial organization of the RNA decay machinery, and the ribonuclease responsible for RNA degradation has not been identified. We demonstrate that silencing of human polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) causes accumulation of RNA decay intermediates and increases the half-life of mitochondrial transcripts. A combination of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy with Förster resonance energy transfer and bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) experiments prove that PNPase and hSuv3 helicase (Suv3, hSuv3p and SUPV3L1) form the RNA-degrading complex in vivo in human mitochondria. This complex, referred to as the degradosome, is formed only in specific foci (named D-foci), which co-localize with mitochondrial RNA and nucleoids. Notably, interaction between PNPase and hSuv3 is essential for efficient mitochondrial RNA degradation. This provides indirect evidence that degradosome-dependent mitochondrial RNA decay takes place in foci.

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