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Plant J. 2016 Mar;85(5):594-606. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13093. Epub 2016 Feb 5.

The PPR-SMR protein PPR53 enhances the stability and translation of specific chloroplast RNAs in maize.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, 97403, USA.


Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins are helical repeat proteins that bind RNA and influence gene expression in mitochondria and chloroplasts. Several PPR proteins in plants harbor a carboxy-terminal small-MutS-related (SMR) domain, but the functions of the SMR appendage are unknown. To address this issue, we studied a maize PPR-SMR protein denoted PPR53 (GRMZM2G438524), which is orthologous to the Arabidopsis protein SOT1 (AT5G46580). Null ppr53 alleles condition a chlorotic, seedling-lethal phenotype and a reduction in plastid ribosome content. Plastome-wide transcriptome and translatome analyses revealed strong defects in the expression of the ndhA and rrn23 genes, which were superimposed on secondary effects resulting from a decrease in plastid ribosome content. Transcripts with processed 5'-ends mapping approximately 70 nucleotides upstream of rrn23 and ndhA are absent in ppr53 mutants, and the translational efficiency of the residual ndhA mRNAs is reduced. Recombinant PPR53 binds with high affinity and specificity to the 5' proximal region of the PPR53-dependent 23S rRNA, suggesting that PPR53 protects this RNA via a barrier mechanism similar to that described for several PPR proteins lacking SMR motifs. However, recombinant PPR53 did not bind with high affinity to the ndhA 5' untranslated region, suggesting that PPR53's RNA-stabilization and translation-enhancing effects at the ndhA locus involve the participation of other factors.


RNA processing; SMR domain; Zea mays; chloroplast; pentatricopeptide repeat; plastid; translational activator

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