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Méteignier, Louis-Valentin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9639-5737; Ghandour, Rabea; Meierhoff, Karin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5273-7651; Zimmerman, Aude; Chicher, Johana ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4403-7484; Baumberger, Nicolas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3459-4532; Alioua, Abdelmalek; Meurer, Jörg ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2973-9514; Zoschke, Reimo ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6898-6836 and Hammani, Kamel ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5759-5955 (2020): The Arabidopsis mTERF-repeat MDA1 protein plays a dual function in transcription and stabilization of specific chloroplast transcripts within the psbE and ndhH operons. In: New Phytologist, Vol. 227, No. 5: pp. 1376-1391 [PDF, 2MB]

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The mTERF gene family encodes for nucleic acid binding proteins that are predicted to regulate organellar gene expression in eukaryotes. Despite the implication of this gene family in plant development and response to abiotic stresses, a precise molecular function was assigned to only a handful number of its c. 30 members in plants.

Using a reverse genetics approach in Arabidopsis thaliana and combining molecular and biochemical techniques, we revealed new functions for the chloroplast mTERF protein, MDA1.

We demonstrated that MDA1 associates in vivo with components of the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase and transcriptional active chromosome complexes. MDA1 protein binds in vivo and in vitro with specificity to 27-bp DNA sequences near the 5′-end of psbE and ndhA chloroplast genes to stimulate their transcription, and additionally promotes the stabilization of the 5′-ends of processed psbE and ndhA messenger (m)RNAs. Finally, we provided evidence that MDA1 function in gene transcription likely coordinates RNA folding and the action of chloroplast RNA-binding proteins on mRNA stabilization.

Our results provide examples for the unexpected implication of DNA binding proteins and gene transcription in the regulation of mRNA stability in chloroplasts, blurring the boundaries between DNA and RNA metabolism in this organelle.

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