The Plant cell

Phage-type RNA polymerase RPOTmp performs gene-specific transcription in mitochondria of Arabidopsis thaliana.

PMID 19783760


Transcription of mitochondrial genes in animals, fungi, and plants relies on the activity of T3/T7 phage-type RNA polymerases. Two such enzymes, RPOTm and RPOTmp, are present in the mitochondria of eudicotyledonous plants; RPOTmp is additionally found in plastids. We have characterized the transcriptional role of the dual-targeted RNA polymerase in mitochondria of Arabidopsis thaliana. Examination of mitochondrial transcripts in rpoTmp mutants revealed major differences in transcript abundances between wild-type and rpoTmp plants. Decreased levels of specific transcripts were correlated with reduced abundances of the respiratory chain complexes I and IV. Altered transcript levels in rpoTmp were found to result from gene-specific transcriptional changes, establishing that RPOTmp functions in distinct transcriptional processes within mitochondria. Decreased transcription of specific genes in rpoTmp was not associated with changes in promoter utilization; therefore, RPOTmp function is not promoter specific but gene specific. This implies that additional gene-specific elements direct the transcription of a subset of mitochondrial genes by RPOTmp.