Published on Feb. 1, 2002 in Mol Cell Biol. volume 22(4).
PubMed ID: 11809803
A critical step toward understanding mitochondrial genetics and its impact on human disease is to identify and characterize the full complement of nucleus-encoded factors required for mitochondrial gene expression and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication. Two factors required for transcription initiation from a human mitochondrial promoter are h-mtRNA polymerase and the DNA binding transcription factor, h-mtTFA. However, based on studies in model systems, the existence of a second human mitochondrial transcription factor has been postulated. Here we report the isolation of a cDNA encoding h-mtTFB, the human homolog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondrial transcription factor B (sc-mtTFB) and the first metazoan member of this class of transcription factors to which a gene has been assigned. Recombinant h-mtTFB is capable of binding mtDNA in a non-sequence-specific fashion and activates transcription from the human mitochondrial light-strand promoter in the presence of h-mtTFA in vitro. Remarkably, h-mtTFB and its fungal homologs are related in primary sequence to a superfamily of N6 adenine RNA methyltransferases. This observation, coupled with the ability of recombinant h-mtTFB to bind S-adenosylmethionine in vitro, suggests that a structural, and perhaps functional, relationship exists between this class of transcription factors and this family of RNA modification enzymes and that h-mtTFB may perform dual functions during mitochondrial gene expression.