Wild-type filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa continues to grow its hyphae for a very lengthy period of time (>2 years), whereas mutations at the natural death (nd) locus shorten life span (approximately 20 days). By positional cloning based on heat augmented mutagen sensitivity of the nd strain, we identified a nonsense mutation in the msh1 gene, an eukaryotic homolog of bacterial MutS, and this mutation resulted in encoding non-functional polypeptide. By tagging with GFP, subcellular localization of the MSH1 protein in the mitochondria was observed, and knock out of the msh1 gene caused severe growth deficiency accompanying mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) aberrations such as large-scale mtDNA deletions and rearrangements as seen in the nd strain. These results suggested that MSH1 may maintain mtDNA integrity. Thus, loss of function compromises mtDNA, leading to the acceleration of cellular aging.
Keywords: Aging; Mitochondria; Msh1; Neusospora crassa; Short life span; mtDNA deletion.
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