Modeling RNA polymerase interaction in mitochondria of chordates.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:In previous work, we introduced a concept, a mathematical model and its computer realization that describe the interaction between bacterial and phage type RNA polymerases, protein factors, DNA and RNA secondary structures during transcription, including transcription initiation and termination. The model accurately reproduces changes of gene transcription level observed in polymerase sigma-subunit knockout and heat shock experiments in plant plastids. The corresponding computer program and a user guide are available at http://lab6.iitp.ru/en/rivals. Here we apply the model to the analysis of transcription and (partially) translation processes in the mitochondria of frog, rat and human. Notably, mitochondria possess only phage-type polymerases. We consider the entire mitochondrial genome so that our model allows RNA polymerases to complete more than one circle on the DNA strand. RESULTS:Our model of RNA polymerase interaction during transcription initiation and elongation accurately reproduces experimental data obtained for plastids. Moreover, it also reproduces evidence on bulk RNA concentrations and RNA half-lives in the mitochondria of frog, human with or without the MELAS mutation, and rat with normal (euthyroid) or hyposecretion of thyroid hormone (hypothyroid). The transcription characteristics predicted by the model include: (i) the fraction of polymerases terminating at a protein-dependent terminator in both directions (the terminator polarization), (ii) the binding intensities of the regulatory protein factor (mTERF) with the termination site and, (iii) the transcription initiation intensities (initiation frequencies) of all promoters in all five conditions (frog, healthy human, human with MELAS syndrome, healthy rat, and hypothyroid rat with aberrant mtDNA methylation). Using the model, absolute levels of all gene transcription can be inferred from an arbitrary array of the three transcription characteristics, whereas, for selected genes only relative RNA concentrations have been experimentally determined. Conversely, these characteristics and absolute transcription levels can be obtained using relative RNA concentrations and RNA half-lives known from various experimental studies. In this case, the "inverse problem" is solved with multi-objective optimization. CONCLUSIONS:In this study, we demonstrate that our model accurately reproduces all relevant experimental data available for plant plastids, as well as the mitochondria of chordates. Using experimental data, the model is applied to estimate binding intensities of phage-type RNA polymerases to their promoters as well as predicting terminator characteristics, including polarization. In addition, one can predict characteristics of phage-type RNA polymerases and the transcription process that are difficult to measure directly, e.g., the association between the promoter's nucleotide composition and the intensity of polymerase binding. To illustrate the application of our model in functional predictions, we propose a possible mechanism for MELAS syndrome development in human involving a decrease of Phe-tRNA, Val-tRNA and rRNA concentrations in the cell. In addition, we describe how changes in methylation patterns of the mTERF binding site and three promoters in hypothyroid rat correlate with changes in intensities of the mTERF binding and transcription initiations. Finally, we introduce an auxiliary model to describe the interaction between polysomal mRNA and ribonucleases.
Project description:The molecular function of mTERFs (mitochondrial transcription termination factors) has so far only been described for metazoan members of the protein family and in animals they control mitochondrial replication, transcription and translation. Cells of photosynthetic eukaryotes harbour chloroplasts and mitochondria, which are in an intense cross-talk that is vital for photosynthesis. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a unicellular green alga widely used as a model organism for photosynthesis research and green biotechnology. Among the six nuclear C. reinhardtii mTERF genes is mTERF-like gene of Chlamydomonas (MOC1), whose inactivation alters mitorespiration and interestingly also light-acclimation processes in the chloroplast that favour the enhanced production of biohydrogen. We show here from in vitro studies that MOC1 binds specifically to a sequence within the mitochondrial rRNA-coding module S3, and that a knockout of MOC1 in the mutant stm6 increases read-through transcription at this site, indicating that MOC1 acts as a transcription terminator in vivo. Whereas the level of certain antisense RNA species is higher in stm6, the amount of unprocessed mitochondrial sense transcripts is strongly reduced, demonstrating that a loss of MOC1 causes perturbed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) expression. Overall, we provide evidence for the existence of mitochondrial antisense RNAs in C. reinhardtii and show that mTERF-mediated transcription termination is an evolutionary-conserved mechanism occurring in phototrophic protists and metazoans.
Project description:We have analyzed the influence of in vivo treatment and in vitro addition of thyroid hormone on in organello mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) transcription and, in parallel, on the in organello footprinting patterns at the mtDNA regions involved in the regulation of transcription. We found that thyroid hormone modulates mitochondrial RNA levels and the mRNA/rRNA ratio by influencing the transcriptional rate. In addition, we found conspicuous differences between the mtDNA dimethyl sulfate footprinting patterns of mitochondria derived from euthyroid and hypothyroid rats at the transcription initiation sites but not at the mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF) binding region. Furthermore, direct addition of thyroid hormone to the incubation medium of mitochondria isolated from hypothyroid rats restored the mRNA/rRNA ratio found in euthyroid rats as well as the mtDNA footprinting patterns at the transcription initiation area. Therefore, we conclude that the regulatory effect of thyroid hormone on mitochondrial transcription is partially exerted by a direct influence of the hormone on the mitochondrial transcription machinery. Particularly, the influence on the mRNA/rRNA ratio is achieved by selective modulation of the alternative H-strand transcription initiation sites and does not require the previous activation of nuclear genes. These results provide the first functional demonstration that regulatory signals, such as thyroid hormone, that modify the expression of nuclear genes can also act as primary signals for the transcriptional apparatus of mitochondria.
Project description:Defects in mitochondrial gene expression are associated with aging and disease. Mterf proteins have been implicated in modulating transcription, replication and protein synthesis. We have solved the structure of a member of this family, the human mitochondrial transcriptional terminator MTERF1, bound to dsDNA containing the termination sequence. The structure indicates that upon sequence recognition MTERF1 unwinds the DNA molecule, promoting eversion of three nucleotides. Base flipping is critical for stable binding and transcriptional termination. Additional structural and biochemical results provide insight into the DNA binding mechanism and explain how MTERF1 recognizes its target sequence. Finally, we have demonstrated that the mitochondrial pathogenic G3249A and G3244A mutations interfere with key interactions for sequence recognition, eliminating termination. Our results provide insight into the role of mterf proteins and suggest a link between mitochondrial disease and the regulation of mitochondrial transcription.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Modeling of a complex biological process can explain the results of experimental studies and help predict its characteristics. Among such processes is transcription in the presence of competing RNA polymerases. This process involves RNA polymerases collision followed by transcription termination. RESULTS: A mathematical and computer simulation model is developed to describe the competition of RNA polymerases during genes transcription on complementary DNA strands. E.g., in the barley Hordeum vulgare the polymerase competition occurs in the locus containing plastome genes psbA, rpl23, rpl2 and four bacterial type promoters. In heat shock experiments on isolated chloroplasts, a twofold decrease of psbA transcripts and even larger increase of rpl23-rpl2 transcripts were observed, which is well reproduced in the model. The model predictions are in good agreement with virtually all relevant experimental data (knockout, heat shock, chromatogram data, etc.). The model allows to hypothesize a mechanism of cell response to knockout and heat shock, as well as a mechanism of gene expression regulation in presence of RNA polymerase competition. The model is implemented for multiprocessor platforms with MPI and supported on Linux and MS Windows. The source code written in C++ is available under the GNU General Public License from the laboratory website. A user-friendly GUI version is also provided at http://lab6.iitp.ru/en/rivals. CONCLUSIONS: The developed model is in good agreement with virtually all relevant experimental data. The model can be applied to estimate intensities of binding of the holoenzyme and phage type RNA polymerase to their promoters using data on gene transcription levels, as well as to predict characteristics of RNA polymerases and the transcription process that are difficult to measure directly, e.g., the intensity (frequency) of holoenzyme binding to the promoter in correlation to its nucleotide composition and the type of ?-subunit, the amount of transcription initiation aborts, etc. The model can be used to make functional predictions, e.g., heat shock response in isolated chloroplasts and changes of gene transcription levels under knockout of different ?-subunits or RNA polymerases or due to gene expression regulation.
Project description:Despite the crucial importance of mitochondrial transcription, knowledge of its regulation is poor. Therefore, characterization of mammalian mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF) functionality and regulation is of fundamental biological interest in order to understand the regulation of mitochondrial transcription. Here we report that mTERF is the first protein having a role in mammalian mitochondrial gene expression that appears to be controlled by phosphorylation. Recombinant mature rat mTERF protein has specific DNA-binding capacity for the sequence required for transcription termination. Furthermore, unlike recombinant human mTERF, the rat protein bound to its mitochondrial DNA binding site promotes the termination of transcription initiated with heterologous RNA polymerase. Interestingly, mTERF is a phosphoprotein with four phosphate groups, and while the DNA-binding activity of mTERF is unaffected by the phosphorylation/dephosphorylation state, only the phosphorylated form of the protein is active for termination activity. Moreover, natural human mTERF is also a phosphoprotein and its termination activity is inhibited by dephosphorylation. These data suggest that mTERF functioning in vivo is regulated by phosphorylation.
Project description:Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, an important pathogen of swine, exhibits a low guanine and cytosine (GC) content genome. M. hyopneumoniae genome is organised in long transcriptional units and promoter sequences have been mapped upstream of all transcription units. These analysis provided insights into the gene organisation and transcription initiation at the genome scale. However, the presence of transcriptional terminator sequences in the M. hyopneumoniae genome is poorly understood.In silico analyses demonstrated the presence of putative terminators in 82% of the 33 monocistronic units (mCs) and in 74% of the 116 polycistronic units (pCs) considering different classes of terminators. The functional activity of 23 intrinsic terminators was confirmed by RT-PCR and qPCR. Analysis of all terminators found by three software algorithms, combined with experimental results, allowed us to propose a pattern of RNA hairpin formation during the termination process and to predict the location of terminators in the M. hyopneumoniae genome sequence.The stem-loop structures of intrinsic terminators of mycoplasma diverge from the pattern of terminators found in other bacteria due the low content of guanine and cytosine. In M. hyopneumoniae, transcription can end after a transcriptional unit and before its terminator sequence and can also continue past the terminator sequence with RNA polymerases gradually releasing the RNA.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Based on its activities in vitro, the mammalian mitochondrial transcription termination factor mTERF has been proposed to regulate mitochondrial transcription by favouring termination at its high-affinity binding immediately downstream of the rDNA segment of mitochondrial DNA, and initiation selectively at the PH1 site of the heavy-strand promoter. This defines an rDNA transcription unit distinct from the 'global' heavy-strand transcription unit initiating at PH2. However, evidence that the relative activities of the two heavy-strand transcription units are modulated by mTERF in vivo is thus far lacking.<h4>Results</h4>To test this hypothesis, we engineered human HEK293-derived cells for over-expression or knockdown of mTERF, and measured the steady-state levels of transcripts belonging to different transcription units, namely tRNALeu(UUR) and ND1 mRNA for the PH2 transcription unit, and tRNAPhe plus 12S and 16S rRNA for the PH1 transcription unit. The relative levels of 16S rRNA and ND1 mRNA were the same under all conditions tested, although mTERF knockdown resulted in increased levels of transcripts of 12S rRNA. The amount of tRNAPhe relative to tRNALeu(UUR) was unaffected by mTERF over-expression, altered only slightly by mTERF knockdown, and was unchanged during recovery from ethidium bromide-induced depletion of mitochondrial RNA. mTERF overexpression or knockdown produced a substantial shift (3-5-fold) in the relative abundance of antisense transcripts either side of its high-affinity binding site.<h4>Conclusions</h4>mTERF protein levels materially affect the amount of readthrough transcription on the antisense strand of mtDNA, whilst the effects on sense-strand transcripts are complex, and suggest the influence of compensatory mechanisms.
Project description:Control of transcription speed, which influences many co-transcriptional processes, is poorly understood. We report that PNUTS-PP1 phosphatase is a negative regulator of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) elongation rate. The PNUTS W401A mutation, which disrupts PP1 binding, causes genome-wide acceleration of transcription associated with hyper-phosphorylation of the Spt5 elongation factor. Immediately downstream of poly(A) sites, Pol II decelerates from >2 kb/min to <1 kb/min, which correlates with Spt5 dephosphorylation. Pol II deceleration and Spt5 dephosphorylation require poly(A) site recognition and the PNUTS-PP1 complex, which is in turn necessary for transcription termination. These results lead to a model for termination, the "sitting duck torpedo" mechanism, where poly(A) site-dependent deceleration caused by PNUTS-PP1 and Spt5 dephosphorylation is required to convert Pol II into a viable target for the Xrn2 terminator exonuclease. Spt5 and its bacterial homolog NusG therefore have related functions controlling kinetic competition between RNA polymerases and the termination factors that pursue them.
Project description:Plant mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF) genes comprise a large family with important roles in regulating organelle gene expression. In this study, a comprehensive database search yielded 31 potential mTERF genes in maize (Zea mays L.) and most of them were targeted to mitochondria or chloroplasts. Maize mTERF were divided into nine main groups based on phylogenetic analysis, and group IX represented the mitochondria and species-specific clade that diverged from other groups. Tandem and segmental duplication both contributed to the expansion of the mTERF gene family in the maize genome. Comprehensive expression analysis of these genes, using microarray data and RNA-seq data, revealed that these genes exhibit a variety of expression patterns. Environmental stimulus experiments revealed differential up or down-regulation expression of maize mTERF genes in seedlings exposed to light/dark, salts and plant hormones, respectively, suggesting various important roles of maize mTERF genes in light acclimation and stress-related responses. These results will be useful for elucidating the roles of mTERF genes in the growth, development and stress response of maize.
Project description:The mitochondrial transcription termination factor (mTERF) proteins are nucleic acid binding proteins characterized by degenerate helical repeats of ?30 amino acids. Metazoan genomes encode a small family of mTERF proteins whose members influence mitochondrial gene expression and DNA replication. The mTERF family in higher plants consists of roughly 30 members, which localize to mitochondria or chloroplasts. Effects of several mTERF proteins on plant development and physiology have been described, but molecular functions of mTERF proteins in plants are unknown. We show that a maize mTERF protein, Zm-mTERF4, promotes the splicing of group II introns in chloroplasts. Zm-mTERF4 coimmunoprecipitates with many chloroplast introns and the splicing of some of these introns is disrupted even in hypomorphic Zm-mterf4 mutants. Furthermore, Zm-mTERF4 is found in high molecular weight complexes that include known chloroplast splicing factors. The splicing of two transfer RNAs (trnI-GAU and trnA-UGC) and one ribosomal protein messenger RNA (rpl2) is particularly sensitive to the loss of Zm-mTERF4, accounting for the loss of plastid ribosomes in Zm-mTERF4 mutants. These findings extend the known functional repertoire of the mTERF family to include group II intron splicing and suggest that a conserved role in chloroplast RNA splicing underlies the physiological defects described for mutations in BSM/Rugosa2, the Zm-mTERF4 ortholog in Arabidopsis.