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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transfer of rps14 from the mitochondrion to the nucleus in maize implied integration within a gene encoding the iron-sulphur subunit of succinate dehydrogenase and expression by alternative splicing.

The maize mitochondrial genome does not contain a gene coding for ribosomal protein S14. In this paper we show that the functional rps14 gene was translocated to the nucleus and acquired the signals conferring expression and product targeting to the mitochondrion in a way not previously described. Transferred rps14 was found integrated between both exons of a gene encoding the iron-sulphur subunit of the respiratory complex II (sdh2). Sdh2 exon 1 and rps14 were separated by a typical plant nuclear intron that was spliced to give a mature poly(A)+ mRNA of 1.4 kb. This processed mRNA encoded a chimeric SDH2 (truncated)-RPS14 polypeptide, and we show that this chimeric polypeptide is targeted into isolated plant mitochondria, where it is proteolytically processed in a complex way. An alternative splicing event utilizing the same 5' splice site and a different downstream 3' splice site generated a second mature poly(A)+ mRNA of 1.3 kb that contained both sdh2 exons. This sdh2 transcript encoded an SDH2 polypeptide highly conserved compared with its homologues in other organisms, and it contained the three cysteine-rich clusters that made up the three non-heme iron-sulphur centres responsible for electron transport. To our knowledge, these results constitute the first evidence of alternative splicing playing a role in the expression and targeting of two mitochondrial proteins with different functions from the same gene.[1]


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