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Characterizing the Regulation of Mitochondrial Nucleoids


Wang, Yun Elisabeth (2014) Characterizing the Regulation of Mitochondrial Nucleoids. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/1MN9-DR40.


Mitochondria contain a 16.6 kb circular genome encoding 13 proteins as well as mitochondrial tRNAs and rRNAs. Copies of the genome are organized into nucleoids containing both DNA and proteins, including the machinery required for mtDNA replication and transcription. Although mtDNA integrity is essential for cellular and organismal viability, regulation of proliferation of the mitochondrial genome is poorly understood. To elucidate the mechanisms behind this, we chose to study the interplay between mtDNA copy number and the proteins involved in mitochondrial fusion, another required function in cells. Strikingly, we found that mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking fusion also had a mtDNA copy number deficit. To understand this phenomenon further, we analyzed the binding of mitochondrial transcription factor A, whose role in transcription, replication, and packaging of the genome is well-established and crucial for cellular maintenance. Using ChIP-seq, we were able to detect largely uniform, non-specific binding across the genome, with no occupancy in the known specific binding sites in the regulatory region. We did detect a single binding site directly upstream of a known origin of replication, suggesting that TFAM may play a direct role in replication. Finally, although TFAM has been previously shown to localize to the nuclear genome, we found no evidence for such binding sites in our system.

To further understand the regulation of mtDNA by other proteins, we analyzed publicly available ChIP-seq datasets from ENCODE, modENCODE, and mouseENCODE for evidence of nuclear transcription factor binding to the mitochondrial genome. We identified eight human transcription factors and three mouse transcription factors that demonstrated binding events with the classical strand asymmetrical morphology of classical binding sites. ChIP-seq is a powerful tool for understanding the interactions between proteins and the mitochondrial genome, and future studies promise to further the understanding of how mtDNA is regulated within the nucleoid.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Mitochondria, ChIP-Seq, mitochondrial DNA
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Chan, David C.
Thesis Committee:
  • Bronner, Marianne E. (chair)
  • Wold, Barbara J.
  • Stathopoulos, Angelike
  • Chan, David C.
Defense Date:4 September 2013
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05282014-004119763
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8405
Deposited By: Yun Wang
Deposited On:30 May 2014 21:27
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:05

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