, Volume 281, Issue 5, pp 473-481
Date: 24 Jan 2009

RNA editing: only eleven sites are present in the Physcomitrella patens mitochondrial transcriptome and a universal nomenclature proposal

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RNA editing in mitochondria and chloroplasts of land plants alters the coding content of transcripts through site-specific exchanges of cytidines into uridines and vice versa. The abundance of RNA editing in model plant species such as rice or Arabidopsis with some 500 affected sites in their organelle transcripts hinders straightforward approaches to elucidate its mechanisms. The moss Physcomitrella patens is increasingly being appreciated as an alternative plant model system, enhanced by the recent availability of its complete chloroplast, mitochondrial, and nuclear genome sequences. We here report the transcriptomic analysis of Physcomitrella mitochondrial mRNAs as a prerequisite for future studies of mitochondrial RNA editing in this moss. We find a strikingly low frequency of RNA editing affecting only eleven, albeit highly important, sites of C-to-U nucleotide modification in only nine mitochondrial genes. Partial editing was seen for two of these sites but no evidence for any silent editing sites (leaving the identity of the encoded amino acid unchanged) as commonly observed in vascular plants was found in Physcomitrella, indicating a compact and efficient organization of the editing machinery. Furthermore, we here wish to propose a unifying nomenclature to clearly identify and designate RNA editing positions and to facilitate future communication and database annotation.

Communicated by B. Franz Lang.