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J Genet Genomics. 2008 Feb;35(2):65-71. doi: 10.1016/S1673-8527(08)60010-7.

Mitochondrial retrograde regulation tuning fork in nuclear genes expressions of higher plants.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetic Resources & Functional Improvement for Horticultural Plants, Department of Horticulture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


In plant cells, there are three organelles: the nucleus, chloroplast, and mitochondria that store genetic information. The nucleus possesses the majority of genetic information and controls most aspects of organelles gene expression, growth, and development. In return, organelles also send signals back to regulate nuclear gene expression, a process defined as retrograde regulation. The best studies of organelles to nucleus retrograde regulation exist in plant chloroplast-to-nuclear regulation and yeast mitochondria-to-nuclear regulation. In this review, we summarize the recent understanding of mitochondrial retrograde regulation in higher plant, which involves multiple potential signaling pathway in relation to cytoplasmic male-sterility, biotic stress, and abiotic stress. With respect to mitochondrial retrograde regulation signal pathways involved in cytoplasmic male-sterility, we consider that nuclear transcriptional factor genes are the targeted genes regulated by mitochondria to determine the abnormal reproductive development, and the MAPK signaling pathway may be involved in this regulation in Brassica juncea. When plants suffer biotic and abiotic stress, plant cells will initiate cell death or other events directed toward recovering from stress. During this process, we propose that mitochondria may determine how plant cell responds to a given stress through retrograde regulation. Meanwhile, several transducer molecules have also been discussed here. In particular, the Paepe research group reported that leaf mitochondrial modulated whole cell redox homeostasis, set antioxidant capacity, and determined stress resistance through altered signaling and diurnal regulation, which is an indication of plant mitochondria with more active function than ever.

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