With the exception of base excision repair, conserved pathways and mechanisms that maintain mitochondrial genome stability have remained largely undelineated. In the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pif1p is a unique DNA helicase that is localized both to the nucleus and mitochondria, where it is involved in maintaining DNA integrity. We previously elucidated a role for Pif1p in oxidative mtDNA damage resistance that appears to be distinct from its postulated function in mtDNA recombination. Strains lacking Pif1p (pif1Delta) exhibit an increased rate of formation of petite mutants (an indicator of mtDNA instability) and elevated mtDNA point mutagenesis. Here we show that deletion of the RRM3 gene, which encodes a DNA helicase closely related to Pif1p, significantly rescues the petite-induction phenotype of a pif1Delta strain. However, suppression of this phenotype was not accompanied by a corresponding decrease in mtDNA point mutagenesis. Instead, deletion of RRM3 alone resulted in an increase in mtDNA point mutagenesis that was synergistic with that caused by a pif1Delta mutation. In addition, we found that over-expression of RNR1, encoding a large subunit of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), rescued the petite-induction phenotype of a pif1Delta mutation to a similar extent as deletion of RRM3. This, coupled to our finding that the Rad53p protein kinase is phosphorylated in the rrm3Delta pif1Delta double-mutant strain, leads us to conclude that one mechanism whereby deletion of RRM3 influences mtDNA stability is by modulating mitochondrial deoxynucleoside triphosphate pools. We propose that this is accomplished by signaling through the conserved Mec1/Rad53, S-phase checkpoint pathway to induce the expression and activity of RNR. Altogether, our results define a novel role for Rrm3p in mitochondrial function and indicate that Pif1p and Rrm3p influence a common process (or processes) involved in mtDNA replication, repair, or stability.
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