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Keywords:

  • mtDNA;
  • replication;
  • segregation;
  • uniparental inheritance;
  • yeast

Wild-type yeast mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited biparentally, whereas mtDNA of hypersuppressive petite mutants is inherited uniparentally in crosses to strains with wild-type mtDNA. Genomes of hypersuppressive petites contain a conserved ori sequence that includes a promoter, but it is unclear whether the ori confers a segregation or replication advantage. Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis of wild-type and petite mtDNAs in crosses reveals no preferential segregation of hypersuppressive petite mtDNA to first zygotic buds. We identify single-stranded DNA circles and RNA-primed DNA replication intermediates in hypersuppressive petite mtDNA that are absent from non-hypersuppressive petites. Mutating the promoter blocks hypersuppressiveness in crosses to wild-type strains and eliminates the distinctive replication intermediates. We propose that promoter-dependent RNA-primed replication accounts for the uniparental inheritance of hypersuppressive petite mtDNA.