Mitochondrial and Chloroplast Phage-Type RNA Polymerases in Arabidopsis

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Science  08 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5327, pp. 809-811
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5327.809

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In addition to the RNA polymerases (RNAPs) transcribing the nuclear genes, eukaryotic cells also require RNAPs to transcribe the genes of the mitochondrial genome and, in plants, of the chloroplast genome. The plant Arabidopsis thaliana was found to contain two nuclear genes similar to genes encoding the mitochondrial RNAP from yeast and RNAPs of bacteriophages T7, T3, and SP6. The putative transit peptides of the two polymerases were capable of targeting fusion proteins to mitochondria and chloroplasts, respectively, in vitro. The results indicate that the mitochondrial RNAP in plants is a bacteriophage-type enzyme. A gene duplication event may have generated the second RNAP, which along with the plastid-encoded eubacteria-like RNAP could transcribe the chloroplast genome.

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