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New Phytol. 2010 Apr;186(2):299-317. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03195.x. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Recombination and the maintenance of plant organelle genome stability.

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Department of Biochemistry, Université de Montréal, PO Box 6128, Station Centre-ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3J7, Canada.


Like their nuclear counterpart, the plastid and mitochondrial genomes of plants have to be faithfully replicated and repaired to ensure the normal functioning of the plant. Inability to maintain organelle genome stability results in plastid and/or mitochondrial defects, which can lead to potentially detrimental phenotypes. Fortunately, plant organelles have developed multiple strategies to maintain the integrity of their genetic material. Of particular importance among these processes is the extensive use of DNA recombination. In fact, recombination has been implicated in both the replication and the repair of organelle genomes. Revealingly, deregulation of recombination in organelles results in genomic instability, often accompanied by adverse consequences for plant fitness. The recent identification of four families of proteins that prevent aberrant recombination of organelle DNA sheds much needed mechanistic light on this important process. What comes out of these investigations is a partial portrait of the recombination surveillance machinery in which plants have co-opted some proteins of prokaryotic origin but have also evolved whole new factors to keep their organelle genomes intact. These new features presumably optimized the protection of plastid and mitochondrial genomes against the particular genotoxic stresses they face.

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