Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
DNA polymerases in the mitochondria: A critical review of the evidence
Since 1970, the DNA polymerase gamma (PolG) has been known to be the DNA polymerase responsible for replication and repair of mitochondrial DNA, and until recently it was generally accepted that this was the only polymerase present in mitochondria. However, recent data has challenged that opinion, as several polymerases are now proposed to have activity in mitochondria. To date, their exact role of these other DNA polymerases is unclear and the amount of evidence supporting their role in mitochondria varies greatly. Further complicating matters, no universally accepted standards have been set for definitive proof of the mitochondrial localization of a protein. To gain an appreciation of these newly proposed DNA polymerases in the mitochondria, we review the evidence and standards needed to establish the role of a polymerase in the mitochondria. Employing PolG as an example, we established a list of criteria necessary to verify the existence and function of new mitochondrial proteins. We then apply this criteria towards several other putative mitochondrial polymerases. While there is still a lot left to be done in this exciting new direction, it is clear that PolG is not acting alone in mitochondria, opening new doors for potential replication and repair mechanisms.