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Goke, Aylin; Schrott, Simon; Mizrak, Arda; Belyy, Vladislav; Osman, Christof and Walter, Peter (2020): Mrx6 regulates mitochondrial DNA copy number in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by engaging the evolutionarily conserved Lon protease Pim1. In: Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 31, No. 7: pp. 527-545

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Mitochondrial function depends crucially on the maintenance of multiple mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copies. Surprisingly, the cellular mechanisms regulating mtDNA copy number remain poorly understood. Through a systematic high-throughput approach in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we determined mtDNA-to-nuclear DNA ratios in 5148 strains lacking nonessential genes. The screen revealed MRX6, a largely uncharacterized gene, whose deletion resulted in a marked increase in mtDNA levels, while maintaining wild type-like mitochondrial structure and cell size. Quantitative superresolution imaging revealed that deletion of MRX6 alters both the size and the spatial distribution of mtDNA nucleoids. We demonstrate that Mrx6 partially colocalizes with mtDNA within mitochondria and interacts with the conserved Lon protease Pim1 in a complex that also includes Mam33 and the Mrx6-related protein Pet20. Acute depletion of Pim1 phenocopied the high mtDNA levels observed in Delta mrx6 cells. No further increase in mtDNA copy number was observed upon depletion of Pim1 in Delta mrx6 cells, revealing an epistatic relationship between Pim1 and Mrx6. Human and bacterial Lon proteases regulate DNA replication by degrading replication initiation factors, suggesting a model in which Pim1 acts similarly with the Mrx6 complex, providing a scaffold linking it to mtDNA.

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