The germinating asexual spores (conidia) of Neurospora crassa were employed to study steps in the accumulation of transcripts of groups of mitochondrial genes, including those for peptide subunits of cytochrome c oxidase (CO), ATPase (ATP), and apocytochrome b (COB). Physically clustered groups of genes were expressed as cohorts: transcripts of the ATP8-ATP6-mtATP9-CO2 genes were almost undetectable in the dormant spores, and they accumulated rapidly as a group immediately after spore activation. Transcripts of COB and the adjacent CO1 were abundant in the dormant spores, and the dormant and germinating spores contained size forms of the COB transcripts that were not evident in vegetative cells. Polyribosomes were prepared from mitochondrial lysates, and the polyribosomal RNA was probed to identify the mRNAs of specific genes; in several instances polycistronic mRNAs were present in the polyribosomes as were the smaller end products of the inferred transcript processing pathways. The expression of the physically dispersed genes for subunit peptides of cytochrome c oxidase appears to be regulated to the level of translation; these transcripts are accumulated in the total mitochondrial RNA with sharply different kinetics, but they appeared in the polyribosomes uniformly, their appearance correlating with the uniform synthesis of the subunit peptides. Transcripts for a previously reported non-functional mitochondrial gene, homologous to the functional nuclear gene for ATPase subunit 9, were found in the germinating spores, but were not detected in vegetative cells. These mtATP9 transcripts were also present in the polyribosomes and were apparently translated into a protein in vivo whose synthesis was insensitive to cycloheximide and detectable with an anti-ATP9 subunit antibody. Transcripts for two nuclear genes for mitochondrially localized proteins, ATP9 and CO5, were accumulated in unison and especially rapidly during spore germination.
- Cytochrome c oxidase