Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and translational quality control in plant mitochondria

Oren Ostersetzer-Biran, Liron Klipcan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Gene expression involves the transfer of information stored in the DNA to proteins by two sequential key steps: transcription and translation. Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs), an ancient group of enzymes, are key to these processes as they catalyze the attachment of each of the 20 amino acids to their corresponding tRNA molecules. Yet, in addition to the 20 canonical amino acids, plants also produce numerous non-proteogenic amino acids (NPAAs), some of which are erroneously loaded into tRNAs, translated into non-functional or toxic proteins and may thereby disrupt essential cellular processes. While many studies have been focusing on plant organelle RNA metabolism, mitochondrial translation still lags behind its characterization in bacterial and eukaryotic systems. Notably, plant mitochondrial aaRSs generally have a dual location, residing also within the chloroplasts or cytosol. Currently, little is known about how mitochondrial aaRSs distinguish between amino acids and their closely related NPAAs. The organelle translation machineries in plants seem more susceptible to NPAAs due to protein oxidation by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and high rates of protein turnover. We speculate that plant organellar aaRSs have acquired high-affinities to their cognate amino acid substrates to reduce cytotoxic effects by NPAAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Amino acid
  • Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases
  • Mitochondria
  • Non-protein amino acids
  • tRNA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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