Regulators of mitonuclear balance link mitochondrial metabolism to mtDNA expression

Nat Cell Biol. 2023 Nov;25(11):1575-1589. doi: 10.1038/s41556-023-01244-3. Epub 2023 Sep 28.


Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complexes are assembled from proteins encoded by both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. These dual-origin enzymes pose a complex gene regulatory challenge for cells requiring coordinated gene expression across organelles. To identify genes involved in dual-origin protein complex synthesis, we performed fluorescence-activated cell-sorting-based genome-wide screens analysing mutant cells with unbalanced levels of mitochondrial- and nuclear-encoded subunits of Complex IV. We identified genes involved in OXPHOS biogenesis, including two uncharacterized genes: PREPL and NME6. We found that PREPL specifically impacts Complex IV biogenesis by acting at the intersection of mitochondrial lipid metabolism and protein synthesis, whereas NME6, an uncharacterized nucleoside diphosphate kinase, controls OXPHOS biogenesis through multiple mechanisms reliant on its NDPK domain. Firstly, NME6 forms a complex with RCC1L, which together perform nucleoside diphosphate kinase activity to maintain local mitochondrial pyrimidine triphosphate levels essential for mitochondrial RNA abundance. Secondly, NME6 modulates the activity of mitoribosome regulatory complexes, altering mitoribosome assembly and mitochondrial RNA pseudouridylation. Taken together, we propose that NME6 acts as a link between compartmentalized mitochondrial metabolites and mitochondrial gene expression.

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Mitochondrial* / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Nucleoside-Diphosphate Kinase* / metabolism
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • RNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • Nucleoside-Diphosphate Kinase
  • Mitochondrial Proteins