Regulation of transcription of mtDNA is thought to be crucial for maintenance of redox potential and vitality of the cell but is poorly understood at the molecular level. In this study we mapped the binding sites of the core transcription initiation factors TFAM and TFB2M on human mitochondrial RNA polymerase, and interactions of the latter with promoter DNA. This allowed us to construct a detailed structural model, which displays a remarkable level of interaction between the components of the initiation complex (IC). The architecture of the mitochondrial IC suggests mechanisms of promoter binding and recognition that are distinct from the mechanisms found in RNAPs operating in all domains of life, and illuminates strategies of transcription regulation developed at the very early stages of evolution of gene expression.
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