Mitochondrial transcription and its regulation in mammalian cells

Trends Biochem Sci. 2007 Mar;32(3):111-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2007.01.003. Epub 2007 Feb 8.


Human mitochondria contain multiple copies of a small double-stranded DNA genome that encode 13 components of the electron-transport chain and RNA components that are needed for mitochondrial translation. The mitochondrial genome is transcribed by a specialized machinery that includes a monomeric RNA polymerase, the mitochondrial transcription factor A and one of the two mitochondrial transcription factor B paralogues, TFB1M or TFB2M. Today, the components of the basal transcription machinery in mammalian mitochondria are known and their mechanisms of action are gradually being established. In addition, regulatory factors govern transcription levels both at the stage of initiation and termination, but the detailed biochemical understanding of these processes is largely missing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Mitochondrial / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MTERF1 protein, human
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • TFAM protein, human
  • TFB1M protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Methyltransferases
  • TFB2M protein, human
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • POLRMT protein, human