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Elimination of rNMPs from mitochondrial DNA has no effect on its stability

Journal article
Authors P. H. Wanrooij
P. Tran
Liam J. Thompson
G. Carvalho
S. Sharma
Katrin Kreisel
Clara Navarrete
A. L. Feldberg
D. L. Watt
A. K. Nilsson
Martin K M Engqvist
Anders R Clausen
A. Chabes
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume 117
Issue 25
Pages 14306-14313
ISSN 0027-8424
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Biomedicine
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Pages 14306-14313
Language en
Keywords mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, ribonucleotide incorporation, dNTP pool, SAMHD1, ribonucleotide incorporation, deoxynucleotide pools, hiv-1 infection, in-vivo, samhd1, model, rnase, discrimination, polymerase, mutations, Science & Technology - Other Topics
Subject categories Medical Biotechnology


Ribonucleotides (rNMPs) incorporated in the nuclear genome are a well-established threat to genome stability and can result in DNA strand breaks when not removed in a timely manner. However, the presence of a certain level of rNMPs is tolerated in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) although aberrant mtDNA rNMP content has been identified in disease models. We investigated the effect of incorporated rNMPs on mtDNA stability over the mouse life span and found that the mtDNA rNMP content increased during early life. The rNMP content of mtDNA varied greatly across different tissues and was defined by the rNTP/dNTP ratio of the tissue. Accordingly, mtDNA rNMPs were nearly absent in SAMHD1(-/-) mice that have increased dNTP pools. The near absence of rNMPs did not, however, appreciably affect mtDNA copy number or the levels of mtDNA molecules with deletions or strand breaks in aged animals near the end of their life span. The physiological rNMP load therefore does not contribute to the progressive loss of mtDNA quality that occurs as mice age.

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