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PLoS Genet. 2014 Dec 4;10(12):e1004832. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004832. eCollection 2014 Dec.

In vivo occupancy of mitochondrial single-stranded DNA binding protein supports the strand displacement mode of DNA replication.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes for proteins required for oxidative phosphorylation, and mutations affecting the genome have been linked to a number of diseases as well as the natural ageing process in mammals. Human mtDNA is replicated by a molecular machinery that is distinct from the nuclear replisome, but there is still no consensus on the exact mode of mtDNA replication. We here demonstrate that the mitochondrial single-stranded DNA binding protein (mtSSB) directs origin specific initiation of mtDNA replication. MtSSB covers the parental heavy strand, which is displaced during mtDNA replication. MtSSB blocks primer synthesis on the displaced strand and restricts initiation of light-strand mtDNA synthesis to the specific origin of light-strand DNA synthesis (OriL). The in vivo occupancy profile of mtSSB displays a distinct pattern, with the highest levels of mtSSB close to the mitochondrial control region and with a gradual decline towards OriL. The pattern correlates with the replication products expected for the strand displacement mode of mtDNA synthesis, lending strong in vivo support for this debated model for mitochondrial DNA replication.

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