, Volume 32, Issue 1-2, pp 343-365

RNA editing in plant mitochondria and chloroplasts

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In the mitochondria and chloroplasts of higher plants there is an RNA editing activity responsible for specific C-to-U conversions and for a few U-to-C conversions leading to RNA sequences different from the corresponding DNA sequences. RNA editing is a post-transcriptional process which essentially affects the transcripts of protein coding genes, but has also been found to modify non-coding transcribed regions, structural RNAs and intron sequences. RNA editing is essential for correct gene expression: proteins translated from edited transcripts are different from the ones deduced from the genes sequences and usually present higher similarity to the corresponding non-plant homologues. Initiation and stop codons can also be created by RNA editing. RNA editing has also been shown to be required for the stabilization of the secondary structure of introns and tRNAs.

The biochemistry of RNA editing in plant organelles is still largely unknown. In mitochondria, recent experiments indicate that RNA editing may be a deamination process. A plastid transformation technique showed to be a powerful tool for the study of RNA editing. The biochemistry as well as the evolutionary features of RNA editing in both organelles are compared in order to identify common as well as organelle-specific components.