Mitochondrial RNA Helicases: Key Players in the Regulation of Plant Organellar RNA Splicing and Gene Expression

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Mitochondrial genomes of land plants are large and exhibit a complex mode of gene organization and expression, particularly at the post-transcriptional level. The primary organellar transcripts in plants undergo extensive maturation steps, including endo- and/or exo-nucleolytic cleavage, RNA-base modifications (mostly C-to-U deaminations) and both 'cis'- and 'trans'-splicing events. These essential processing steps rely on the activities of a large set of nuclear-encoded factors. RNA helicases serve as key players in RNA metabolism, participating in the regulation of transcription, mRNA processing and translation. They unwind RNA secondary structures and facilitate the formation of ribonucleoprotein complexes crucial for various stages of gene expression. Furthermore, RNA helicases are involved in RNA metabolism by modulating pre-mRNA maturation, transport and degradation processes. These enzymes are, therefore, pivotal in RNA quality-control mechanisms, ensuring the fidelity and efficiency of RNA processing and turnover in plant mitochondria. This review summarizes the significant roles played by helicases in regulating the highly dynamic processes of mitochondrial transcription, RNA processing and translation in plants. We further discuss recent advancements in understanding how dysregulation of mitochondrial RNA helicases affects the splicing of organellar genes, leading to respiratory dysfunctions, and consequently, altered growth, development and physiology of land plants.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 17 May 2024


  • mitochondria
  • plant
  • post-transcription
  • RNA binding protein
  • RNA helicase
  • RNA metabolism
  • splicing

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