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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in eLife, Volume 7, Article number e42179.

The published version is available at Copyright © Bird et al.


Bacterial and eukaryotic nuclear RNA polymerases (RNAPs) cap RNA with the oxidized and reduced forms of the metabolic effector nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, NAD+ and NADH, using NAD+ and NADH as non-canonical initiating nucleotides for transcription initiation. Here, we show that mitochondrial RNAPs (mtRNAPs) cap RNA with NAD+ and NADH, and do so more efficiently than nuclear RNAPs. Direct quantitation of NAD+- and NADH-capped RNA demonstrates remarkably high levels of capping in vivo: up to ~60% NAD+ and NADH capping of yeast mitochondrial transcripts, and up to ~15% NAD+ capping of human mitochondrial transcripts. The capping efficiency is determined by promoter sequence at, and upstream of, the transcription start site and, in yeast and human cells, by intracellular NAD+ and NADH levels. Our findings indicate mtRNAPs serve as both sensors and actuators in coupling cellular metabolism to mitochondrial transcriptional outputs, sensing NAD+ and NADH levels and adjusting transcriptional outputs accordingly. © 2018, Bird et al.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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