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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2010;61:125-55. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042809-112242.

Chloroplast RNA metabolism.

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Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The chloroplast genome encodes proteins required for photosynthesis, gene expression, and other essential organellar functions. Derived from a cyanobacterial ancestor, the chloroplast combines prokaryotic and eukaryotic features of gene expression and is regulated by many nucleus-encoded proteins. This review covers four major chloroplast posttranscriptional processes: RNA processing, editing, splicing, and turnover. RNA processing includes the generation of transcript 5' and 3' termini, as well as the cleavage of polycistronic transcripts. Editing converts specific C residues to U and often changes the amino acid that is specified by the edited codon. Chloroplasts feature introns of groups I and II, which undergo protein-facilitated cis- or trans-splicing in vivo. Each of these RNA-based processes involves proteins of the pentatricopeptide motif-containing family, which does not occur in prokaryotes. Plant-specific RNA-binding proteins may underpin the adaptation of the chloroplast to the eukaryotic context.

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