Nuclear Control of Respiratory Chain Expression by Nuclear Respiratory Factors and PGC-1-Related Coactivator


Address for correspondence: Richard C. Scarpulla, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern Medical School, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago IL, 60611. Voice: +312-503-2946; fax: +312-503-7912.


Expression of the respiratory apparatus depends on both nuclear and mitochondrial genes. Although these genes are sequestered in distinct cellular organelles, their transcription relies on nucleus-encoded factors. Certain of these factors are directed to the mitochondria, where they sponsor the bi-directional transcription of mitochondrial DNA. Others act on nuclear genes that encode the majority of the respiratory subunits and many other gene products required for the assembly and function of the respiratory chain. The nuclear respiratory factors, NRF-1 and NRF-2, contribute to the expression of respiratory subunits and mitochondrial transcription factors and thus have been implicated in nucleo-mitochondrial interactions. In addition, coactivators of the PGC-1 family serve as mediators between the environment and the transcriptional machinery governing mitochondrial biogenesis. One family member, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator PGC-1-related coactivator (PRC), is an immediate early gene product that is rapidly induced by mitogenic signals in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. Like other PGC-1 family members, PRC binds NRF-1 and activates NRF-1 target genes. In addition, PRC complexes with NRF-2 and HCF-1 (host cell factor-1) in the activation of NRF-2-dependent promoters. HCF-1 functions in cell-cycle progression and has been identified as an NRF-2 coactivator. The association of these factors with PRC is suggestive of a role for the complex in cell growth. Finally, shRNA-mediated knock down of PRC expression results in a complex phenotype that includes the inhibition of respiratory growth on galactose and the loss of respiratory complexes. Thus, PRC may help integrate the expression of the respiratory apparatus with the cell proliferative program.