The PPR protein encoded by the LOVASTATIN INSENSITIVE 1 gene is involved in RNA editing at three sites in mitochondria of Arabidopsis thaliana


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Post-transcriptional RNA editing in flowering plant mitochondria alters several hundred nucleotides from cytidine to uridine, mostly in mRNAs. To characterize the factors involved in RNA editing in plant mitochondria, we initiated a screen for nuclear mutants defective in RNA editing at specific sites. Here we identify the nuclear-encoded gene MEF11, which is involved in RNA editing of the three sites cox3-422, nad4-124 and ccb203-344 in Arabidopsis thaliana. A T-DNA insertion line of this gene was previously characterized as showing enhanced tolerance to the compound lovastatin, an inhibitor of the mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis. The mef11-1 mutant described here shows similar tolerance to lovastatin. Identification of the function of the MEF11 protein in site-specific mitochondrial RNA editing suggests indirect effects of retrograde signalling from mitochondria to the cytoplasm to evoke alteration of the mevalonate pathway. The editing sites cox3-422 and ccb203-344 each alter amino acids that are conserved in the respective proteins, while the nad4-124 site is silent. The single amino acid change in the mef11-1 mutant occurs in the second pentatricopeptide repeat, suggesting that this motif is required for site-specific RNA editing.