Caenorhabditis elegans HMG-5, which is encoded by F45E4.9, contains two high mobility group (HMG) box domains and shows sequence similarity with mammalian mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM). In this study, using soaking RNA interference, we found that knockdown of HMG-5 reduced the amount of mtDNA in P0 hermaphrodites, suggesting it as functional orthologue of mammalian TFAM. We also examined the biochemical property of HMG-5 in mammalian cells and in vitro. We found that HMG-5 localized to the mitochondria in human cultured cells and was included in the NP-40-insoluble fraction in which mtDNA and TFAM were enriched. By immunoprecipitation analysis, HMG-5 was found to associate with human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the cells. In vitro binding experiment also showed that HMG-5 binds to C. elegans mtDNA and plasmid DNA, indicating its feature as a non-specific DNA-binding protein. Furthermore, it was found that HMG-5 can interact with itself. These results demonstrate that HMG5 shares similar biochemical properties with mammalian TFAM as a nucleoid factor. HMG-5 could be a good candidate for investigating mtDNA metabolism in multicellular organisms
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