The genetic information in mammalian mitochondrial DNA is densely packed; there are no introns and only one sizeable noncoding, or control, region containing key cis-elements for its replication and expression. Many molecules of mitochondrial DNA bear a third strand of DNA, known as "7S DNA," which forms a displacement (D-) loop in the control region. Here we show that many other molecules contain RNA as a third strand. The RNA of these R-loops maps to the control region of the mitochondrial DNA and is complementary to 7S DNA. Ribonuclease H1 is essential for mitochondrial DNA replication; it degrades RNA hybridized to DNA, so the R-loop is a potential substrate. In cells with a pathological variant of ribonuclease H1 associated with mitochondrial disease, R-loops are of low abundance, and there is mitochondrial DNA aggregation. These findings implicate ribonuclease H1 and RNA in the physical segregation of mitochondrial DNA, perturbation of which represents a previously unidentified disease mechanism.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 26 2016|
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