We show the physiological effects and molecular characterization of overexpression of the catalytic core of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) polymerase (pol γ-α) in muscle of Drosophila melanogaster. Muscle-specific overexpression of pol γ-α using the UAS/GAL4 (where UAS is upstream activation sequence) system produced more than 90% of lethality at the end of pupal stage at 25°C, and the survivor adult flies showed a significant reduction in life span. The survivor flies displayed a decreased mtDNA level that is accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the levels of the nucleoid-binding protein mitochondrial transcription factor A (mtTFA). Furthermore, an increase in apoptosis is detected in larvae and adults overexpressing pol γ-α. We suggest that the pupal lethality and reduced life span of survivor adult flies are both caused mainly by massive apoptosis of muscle cells induced by mtDNA depletion.
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