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Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Jun 20;45(11):6628-6643. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx426.

The DEAD-box helicase Mss116 plays distinct roles in mitochondrial ribogenesis and mRNA-specific translation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.
Departamento de Genetica Molecular, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City 04510, Mexico.
Department of Neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Members of the DEAD-box family are often multifunctional proteins involved in several RNA transactions. Among them, yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mss116 participates in mitochondrial intron splicing and, under cold stress, also in mitochondrial transcription elongation. Here, we show that Mss116 interacts with the mitoribosome assembly factor Mrh4, is required for efficient mitoribosome biogenesis, and consequently, maintenance of the overall mitochondrial protein synthesis rate. Additionally, Mss116 is required for efficient COX1 mRNA translation initiation and elongation. Mss116 interacts with a COX1 mRNA-specific translational activator, the pentatricopeptide repeat protein Pet309. In the absence of Mss116, Pet309 is virtually absent, and although mitoribosome loading onto COX1 mRNA can occur, activation of COX1 mRNA translation is impaired. Mutations abolishing the helicase activity of Mss116 do not prevent the interaction of Mss116 with Pet309 but also do not allow COX1 mRNA translation. We propose that Pet309 acts as an adaptor protein for Mss116 action on the COX1 mRNA 5΄-UTR to promote efficient Cox1 synthesis. Overall, we conclude that the different functions of Mss116 in the biogenesis and functioning of the mitochondrial translation machinery depend on Mss116 interplay with its protein cofactors.

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