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RNA. 2011 Aug;17(8):1551-65. doi: 10.1261/rna.2621111. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Localization of mRNAs coding for mitochondrial proteins in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Targeted mRNA localization is a likely determinant of localized protein synthesis. To investigate whether mRNAs encoding mitochondrial proteins (mMPs) localize to mitochondria and, thus, might confer localized protein synthesis and import, we visualized endogenously expressed mMPs in vivo for the first time. We determined the localization of 24 yeast mMPs encoding proteins of the mitochondrial matrix, outer and inner membrane, and intermembrane space and found that many mMPs colocalize with mitochondria in vivo. This supports earlier cell fractionation and microarray-based studies that proposed mMP association with the mitochondrial fraction. Interestingly, a number of mMPs showed a dependency on the mitochondrial Puf3 RNA-binding protein, as well as nonessential proteins of the translocase of the outer membrane (TOM) complex import machinery, for normal colocalization with mitochondria. We examined the specific determinants of ATP2 and OXA1 mRNA localization and found a mutual dependency on the 3' UTR, Puf3, Tom7, and Tom70, but not Tom20, for localization. Tom6 may facilitate the localization of specific mRNAs as OXA1, but not ATP2, mRNA was mislocalized in tom6Δ cells. Interestingly, a substantial fraction of OXA1 and ATP2 RNA granules colocalized with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and a deletion in MDM10, which mediates mitochondria-ER tethering, resulted in a significant loss of OXA1 mRNA localization with ER. Finally, neither ATP2 nor OXA1 mRNA targeting was affected by a block in translation initiation, indicating that translation may not be essential for mRNA anchoring. Thus, endogenously expressed mRNAs are targeted to the mitochondria in vivo, and multiple factors contribute to mMP localization.

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