Evidence for double-strand break mediated mitochondrial DNA replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Research paper by Kanchanjunga K Prasai, Lucy C LC Robinson, Rona S RS Scott, Kelly K Tatchell, Lynn L Harrison

Indexed on: 27 May '17Published on: 27 May '17Published in: Nucleic acids research


The mechanism of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is controversial. Evidence exists for double-strand break (DSB) mediated recombination-dependent replication at mitochondrial replication origin ori5 in hypersuppressive ρ- cells. However, it is not clear if this replication mode operates in ρ+ cells. To understand this, we targeted bacterial Ku (bKu), a DSB binding protein, to the mitochondria of ρ+ cells with the hypothesis that bKu would bind persistently to mtDNA DSBs, thereby preventing mtDNA replication or repair. Here, we show that mitochondrial-targeted bKu binds to ori5 and that inducible expression of bKu triggers petite formation preferentially in daughter cells. bKu expression also induces mtDNA depletion that eventually results in the formation of ρ0 cells. This data supports the idea that yeast mtDNA replication is initiated by a DSB and bKu inhibits mtDNA replication by binding to a DSB at ori5, preventing mtDNA segregation to daughter cells. Interestingly, we find that mitochondrial-targeted bKu does not decrease mtDNA content in human MCF7 cells. This finding is in agreement with the fact that human mtDNA replication, typically, is not initiated by a DSB. Therefore, this study provides evidence that DSB-mediated replication is the predominant form of mtDNA replication in ρ+ yeast cells.