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Keywords:

  • mitochondrial gene expression;
  • nuclear–mitochondrial interactions;
  • RNA stability;
  • RNA processing;
  • species-specific factors

Summary

Mitochondrial transcription was investigated in a cytoplasmic male-sterile (CMS) Brassica napus line with rearranged mitochondrial (mt) DNA mostly inherited from Arabidopsis thaliana. The transcript patterns were compared with the corresponding male-fertile progenitors, B. napus and A. thaliana, and a fertility-restored line. Transcriptional activities, gene stoichiometry and transcript steady-state levels were analysed for all protein and rRNA coding genes and for several orfs present in the A. thaliana mitochondrial genome. The transcriptional activities were highly variable when comparing the parental species, while the CMS and restored lines displayed similar activities. For several ribosomal protein genes transcriptional activity was reduced while it was increased for orf139 in comparison with the parental species. The differences in transcriptional activity observed could be related to differences in relative promoter strength, as gene stoichiometry between lines was very limited. Transcript steady-state levels were more homogenous than the transcriptional activities demonstrating RNA turnover as a compensating mechanism. In the CMS line higher transcript abundance and novel transcript patterns in comparison with the parental lines were found for several genes. Of those, the transcripts for orf139, orf240a and orf294 were less abundant in the fertility-restored line. These putative CMS-associated transcripts were mapped by cRT-PCR. In conclusion we show that (mt) DNA from A. thaliana was non-correctly transcribed and processed/degraded in the B. napus nuclear background. Furthermore, the introgressed nuclear A. thaliana DNA in the fertility-restored line contributes to a more rapid degradation of transcripts accumulated from A. thaliana derived orfs in the CMS line.