2Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Pawinskiego 5A, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received March 30, 2016; Revision received May 10, 2016
The core mitochondrial RNA polymerase is a single-subunit enzyme that in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is encoded by the nuclear RPO41 gene. It is an evolutionary descendant of the bacteriophage RNA polymerases, but it includes an additional unconserved N-terminal extension (NTE) domain that is unique to the organellar enzymes. This domain mediates interactions between the polymerase and accessory regulatory factors, such as yeast Sls1p and Nam1p. Previous studies demonstrated that deletion of the entire NTE domain results only in a temperature-dependent respiratory deficiency. Several sequences related to the pentatricopeptide (PPR) motifs were identified in silico in Rpo41p, three of which are located in the NTE domain. PPR repeat proteins are a large family of organellar RNA-binding factors, mostly involved in posttranscriptional gene expression mechanisms. To study their function, we analyzed the phenotype of strains bearing Rpo41p variants where each of these motifs was deleted. We found that deletion of any of the three PPR motifs in the NTE domain does not affect respiratory growth at normal temperature, and it results in a moderate decrease in mtDNA stability. Steady-state levels of COX1 and COX2 mRNAs are also moderately affected. Only the deletion of the second motif results in a partial respiratory deficiency, manifested only at elevated temperature. Our results thus indicate that the PPR motifs do not play an essential role in the function of the NTE domain of the mitochondrial RNA polymerase.
KEY WORDS: mitochondria, RNA polymerase, pentatricopeptide motifs, yeast