Control of gene expression by base deamination: The case of RNA editing in wheat mitochondria

V. Blanc, X. Jordana, S. Litvak, A. Araya

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14 Scopus citations


The term 'RNA editing' was used for the first time in 1986 to describe the process of uridylate insertion into trypanosomal mitochondrial transcripts. Since then, the term has been used more generally to describe a large variety of processes involving base insertions, deletions and conversions that generate RNAs with a primary sequence different to those encoded by the gene. RNA editing has been observed in the mitochondrial fraction of trypanosomes, plants and other organisms, in the animal nuclear fraction in the case of the apolipoprotein B and glutamate brain receptors mRNAs as well as in viruses like paramyxovirus, hepatitis δ and probably HIV. The role of cytidine and adenine deamination leading to C to U and A to I transitions has became pivotal to explain this process by base conversion. In this review we will focus mainly on the work performed in our group on plant mitochondria and more specifically on the mechanism and the functional significance of RNA editing in wheat organelles. The original contributions of our laboratory in this field are: i) showing that RNA editing is reflected at the protein level; ii) settling three in vitro systems to assay C to U conversion using a wheat mitochondrial lysate as source of enzymes and factors, and unedited mRNA from the same source, as substrate; iii) determination by double labelling of the unedited substrate that RNA editing in wheat mitochondria occurs via a deamination step; and iv) that introducing unedited proteins in the mitochondria of transgenic plants leads to the emergence of cytoplasmic male sterility supporting the idea that the role of this process is to produce functional proteins. Using the antisense approach in transgenic plants we were able to obtain a significant male fertility restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-517
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996


  • Adenosine deaminase
  • Apolipoprotein B
  • Cytidine deamination
  • Male sterility
  • Plant organelles
  • RNA editing
  • Wheat mitochondria


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