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Genes Dev. 2002 Nov 1;16(21):2755-60.

A novel mitochondrial protein, Tar1p, is encoded on the antisense strand of the nuclear 25S rDNA.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8103, USA.


In eukaryotes, it is widely assumed that genes coding for proteins and structural RNAs do not overlap. Using a transposon-tagging strategy to globally analyze the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome for expressed genes, we identified multiple insertions in an open reading frame that is contained fully within and transcribed antisense to the 25S rRNA gene in the nuclear rDNA repeat region on Chromosome XII. Expression of this gene, TAR1 (Transcript Antisense to Ribosomal RNA), can be detected at the RNA and protein levels, and the primary sequence of the corresponding 124-amino-acid protein is conserved in several yeast species. Tar1p was found to localize to mitochondria, and overexpression of the protein suppresses the respiration-deficient petite phenotype of a point mutation in mitochondrial RNA polymerase that affects mitochondrial gene expression and mtDNA stability. These findings indicate that coding information for protein and structural RNAs can overlap, raising issues regarding the coevolution of such complex genes, and also suggest that rDNA transcription and mitochondrial function are coordinately regulated in eukaryotic cells.

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