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Phosphorylation and acetylation of mitochondrial transcription factor A promote transcription processivity without compromising initiation or DNA compaction


Mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) plays important roles in mitochondrial DNA compaction, transcription initiation, and in the regulation of processes like transcription and replication processivity. It is possible that TFAM is locally regulated within the mitochondrial matrix via such mechanisms as phosphorylation by protein kinase A and nonenzymatic acetylation by acetyl-CoA. Here, we demonstrate that DNA-bound TFAM is less susceptible to these modifications. We confirmed using EMSAs that phosphorylated or acetylated TFAM compacted circular double-stranded DNA just as well as unmodified TFAM and provide an in-depth analysis of acetylated sites on TFAM. We show that both modifications of TFAM increase the processivity of mitochondrial RNA polymerase during transcription through TFAM-imposed barriers on DNA, but that TFAM bearing either modification retains its full activity in transcription initiation. We conclude that TFAM phosphorylation by protein kinase A and nonenzymatic acetylation by acetyl-CoA are unlikely to occur at the mitochondrial DNA and that modified free TFAM retains its vital functionalities like compaction and transcription initiation while enhancing transcription processivity.

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