Initiation of mtDNA transcription is followed by pausing, and diverges across human cell types and during evolution Academic Article uri icon


  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes are long known to be cotranscribed in polycistrones, yet it remains impossible to study nascent mtDNA transcripts quantitatively in vivo using existing tools. To this end, we used deep sequencing (GRO-seq and PRO-seq) and analyzed nascent mtDNA-encoded RNA transcripts in diverse human cell lines and metazoan organisms. Surprisingly, accurate detection of human mtDNA transcription initiation sites (TISs) in the heavy and light strands revealed a novel conserved transcription pausing site near the light-strand TIS. This pausing site correlated with the presence of a bacterial pausing sequence motif, with reduced SNP density, and with a DNase footprinting signal in all tested cells. Its location within conserved sequence block 3 (CSBIII), just upstream of the known transcription–replication transition point, suggests involvement in such transition …

publication date

  • March 1, 2017