bims-plasge Biomed News
on Plastid genes
Issue of 2021‒09‒19
one paper selected by
Vera S. Bogdanova
Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  1. Plant J. 2021 Sep 16.
      The study of plant mitochondria started in earnest around 1950 with the first isolations of mitochondria from animal and plant tissues. The first 35 years were spent establishing the basic properties of plant mitochondria and plant respiration using biochemical and physiological approaches. A number of unique properties (compared to mammalian mitochondria) were observed: (i) The ability to oxidize malate, glycine and cytosolic NAD(P)H at high rates. (ii) The partial insensitivity to rotenone, which turned out to be due to the presence of a second NADH dehydrogenase on the inner surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane in addition to the classical complex I NADH dehydrogenase. (iii) The partial insensitivity to cyanide, which turned out to be due to an alternative oxidase, which is also located on the inner surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane, in addition to the classical complex IV, cytochrome oxidase. With the appearance of molecular biology methods around 1985, followed by genomics, further unique properties were discovered: (iv) Plant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is 10-600 times larger than the mammalian mtDNA, yet it only contains ca 50% more genes. (v) Plant mtDNA has kept the standard genetic code, and it has a low divergence rate with respect to point mutations, but a high recombinatorial activity. (vi) Mitochondrial mRNA maturation includes a uniquely complex set of activities for processing, splicing and editing (at hundreds of sites). (vii) Recombination in mtDNA creates novel reading frames that can produce male sterility. (viii) A large proteome of 2000-3000 different proteins containing many unique proteins such as 200-300 pentatricopeptide repeat proteins. We describe the present and fairly detailed picture of the structure and function of plant mitochondria and how the unique properties make their metabolism more flexible allowing them to be involved in many diverse processes in the plant cell, such as photosynthesis, photorespiration, CAM and C4 metabolism, heat production, temperature control, stress resistance mechanisms, programmed cell death and genomic evolution. However, it is still a challenge to understand how the regulation of metabolism and mtDNA expression works at the cellular level and how retrograde signaling from the mitochondria coordinates all those processes.