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Maintenance of an intact mitochondrial genome is essential for oxidative phosphorylation in all eukaryotes. Depletion of mitochondrial genome copy number can have severe pathological consequences due to loss of respiratory capacity. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, several bifunctional metabolic enzymes have been shown to be required for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance. For example, Ilv5 is required for branched chain amino acid biosynthesis and mtDNA stability. We have identified OXA1 and TIM17 as novel multicopy suppressors of mtDNA instability in ilv5 cells. In addition, overexpression of TIM17, but not OXA1, prevents the complete loss of mtDNA in cells lacking the TFAM homologue Abf2. Introduction of the disease-associated A3243G mutant mtDNA into human NT2 teratocarcinoma cells frequently causes mtDNA loss. Yet when human TIM17A is overexpressed in NT2 cybrids carrying A3243G mtDNA, the proportion of cybrid clones maintaining mtDNA increases significantly. TIM17A overexpression results in long-term mtDNA stabilization, since NT2 cybrids overexpressing TIM17A maintain mtDNA at levels similar to controls for several months. Tim17 is a conserved suppressor of mtDNA instability and is the first factor to be identified that can prevent mtDNA loss in a human cellular model of mitochondrial disease.


Michelina Iacovino, Caroline Granycome, Hiroshi Sembongi, Monika Bokori-Brown, Ronald A Butow, Ian J Holt, Joseph M Bateman. The conserved translocase Tim17 prevents mitochondrial DNA loss. Human molecular genetics. 2009 Jan 01;18(1):65-74

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PMID: 18826960

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