Human mitochondrial RNase P does not distinguish itself from other RNase P enzymes by most of its basic properties. 5' phosphates on tRNA products, strict dependence on a divalent cation, independence of ATP or other cofactors, and sensitivity to puromycin are generally characteristic for RNase P. Slow sedimentation of human mitochondrial RNase P in glycerol gradients suggests a molecular weight considerably lower than that of bacterial or nuclear RNase P. In contrast to fungi, all putative components of mammalian mitochondrial RNase P are encoded by the nucleus. Intriguingly, no indication of the involvement of a trans-acting RNA was found in mammalian mitochondrial tRNA processing. Mitochondrial RNase P is resistant to rigorous treatments with nucleases and exhibits a protein-like density in Cs2SO4 gradients. Moreover, an analysis of copurifying RNAs revealed no putative RNase P RNA candidates. These data suggest that mammalian mitochondrial RNase P, unlike its nuclear counterpart or its bacterial relatives, is not a ribonucleoprotein but a protein enzyme.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.