Mitochondrial Transcription Factor A (TFAM) is regarded as a histone-like protein of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), performing multiple functions for this genome. Aging affects mitochondria in a tissue-specific manner and only calorie restriction (CR) is able to delay or prevent the onset of several age-related changes also in mitochondria.
Samples of the frontal cortex and soleus skeletal muscle from 6- and 26-month-old ad libitum-fed and 26-month-old calorie-restricted rats and of the livers from 18- and 28-month-old ad libitum-fed and 28-month-old calorie-restricted rats were used to detect TFAM amount, TFAM-binding to mtDNA and mtDNA content.
We found an age-related increase in TFAM amount in the frontal cortex, not affected by CR, versus an age-related decrease in the soleus and liver, fully prevented by CR. The semi-quantitative analysis of in vivo binding of TFAM to specific mtDNA regions, by mtDNA immunoprecipitation assay and following PCR, showed a marked age-dependent decrease in TFAM-binding activity in the frontal cortex, partially prevented by CR. An age-related increase in TFAM-binding to mtDNA, fully prevented by CR, was found in the soleus and liver. MtDNA content presented a common age-related decrease, completely prevented by CR in the soleus and liver, but not in the frontal cortex.
The modulation of TFAM expression, TFAM-binding to mtDNA and mtDNA content with aging and CR showed a trend shared by the skeletal muscle and liver, but not by the frontal cortex counterpart.
General significance: Aging and CR appear to induce similar mitochondrial molecular mechanisms in the skeletal muscle and liver, different from those elicited in the frontal cortex.