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Title: Rapid Shifts in Mitochondrial tRNA Import in a Plant Lineage with Extensive Mitochondrial tRNA Gene Loss
Abstract In most eukaryotes, transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are one of the very few classes of genes remaining in the mitochondrial genome, but some mitochondria have lost these vestiges of their prokaryotic ancestry. Sequencing of mitogenomes from the flowering plant genus Silene previously revealed a large range in tRNA gene content, suggesting rapid and ongoing gene loss/replacement. Here, we use this system to test longstanding hypotheses about how mitochondrial tRNA genes are replaced by importing nuclear-encoded tRNAs. We traced the evolutionary history of these gene loss events by sequencing mitochondrial genomes from key outgroups (Agrostemma githago and Silene [=Lychnis] chalcedonica). We then performed the first global sequencing of purified plant mitochondrial tRNA populations to characterize the expression of mitochondrial-encoded tRNAs and the identity of imported nuclear-encoded tRNAs. We also confirmed the utility of high-throughput sequencing methods for the detection of tRNA import by sequencing mitochondrial tRNA populations in a species (Solanum tuberosum) with known tRNA trafficking patterns. Mitochondrial tRNA sequencing in Silene revealed substantial shifts in the abundance of some nuclear-encoded tRNAs in conjunction with their recent history of mt-tRNA gene loss and surprising cases where tRNAs with anticodons still encoded in the mitochondrial genome also appeared to be imported. These more » data suggest that nuclear-encoded counterparts are likely replacing mitochondrial tRNAs even in systems with recent mitochondrial tRNA gene loss, and the redundant import of a nuclear-encoded tRNA may provide a mechanism for functional replacement between translation systems separated by billions of years of evolutionary divergence. « less
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Purugganan, Michael
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Molecular Biology and Evolution
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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