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One Enzyme, Two Distinct Functions,Scientists Uncover a Novel Role of a Tetrapyrrole Biosynthetic Enzyme
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As sessile organisms, plants have evolved smart, sophisticated, and energy-saving mechanisms to maintain growth and development and to deal with various challenges.

Tetrapyrroles (e.g. Chlorophylls and heme) play important roles in a wide range of biological processes including photosynthesis and respiration. Nearly twenty enzymes catalyze the biosynthetic pathway of tetrapyrroles. RNA editing is a post-transcriptional process that produces protein varieties without changing the DNA sequence of a gene. Previously, scientists didn’t know whether there was a connection between the tetrapyrrole pathway and RNA editing process.

Dr. Rongcheng Lin and his research team from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences are studying the function and regulation of tetrapyrrole synthesis pathway using Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant that has been widely used in the plant research field. Their recent study reveals a novel and unexpected function for protoporphyrinogen IX oxidase 1 (PPO1 for short) in regulating plastid RNA editing, in addition to catalyzing the tetrapyrrole synthesis pathway. They demonstrate the underlying mechanism where PPO1 interacts with and modulates the stability of multiple organellar RNA editing factors. In addition to furthering our knowledge of the composition of the plant organellar editing apparatus, this research provides insight into both the conserved and divergent roles of enzymes in the tetrapyrrole metabolism during evolution.

The results were published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, January 13, 2014. Ph.D student Fan Zhang is the first author and Dr. Rongcheng Lin is corresponding this article. This work was done by collaborating with the scientists from the Institute of Botany and Humboldt University Berlin, and was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

PPO1 and MORF proteins interact to regulate RNA editing

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