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Top Curr Chem. 2014;344:247-92. doi: 10.1007/128_2013_457.

Pathogenic implications of human mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.

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Architecture et Réactivité de l'ARN, CNRS, Université de Strasbourg, IBMC, 15 rue René Descartes, 67084, Strasbourg Cedex, France,


Mitochondria are considered as the powerhouse of eukaryotic cells. They host several central metabolic processes fueling the oxidative phosphorylation pathway (OXPHOS) that produces ATP from its precursors ADP and inorganic phosphate Pi (PPi). The respiratory chain complexes responsible for the OXPHOS pathway are formed from complementary sets of protein subunits encoded by the nuclear genome and the mitochondrial genome, respectively. The expression of the mitochondrial genome requires a specific and fully active translation machinery from which aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are key actors. Whilst the macromolecules involved in mammalian mitochondrial translation have been under investigation for many years, there has been an explosion of interest in human mitochondrial aaRSs (mt-aaRSs) since the discovery of a large (and growing) number of mutations in these genes that are linked to a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Herein we will review the present knowledge on mt-aaRSs in terms of their biogenesis, their connection to mitochondrial respiration, i.e., the respiratory chain (RC) complexes, and to the mitochondrial translation machinery. The pathology-related mutations detected so far are described, with special attention given to their impact on mt-aaRSs biogenesis, functioning, and/or subsequent activities. The collected data to date shed light on the diverse routes that are linking primary molecular possible impact of a mutation to its phenotypic expression. It is envisioned that a variety of mechanisms, inside and outside the translation machinery, would play a role on the heterogeneous manifestations of mitochondrial disorders.

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