Author(s): Tillich M, Lehwark P, Morton BR, Maier UG
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Abstract RNA editing alters the nucleotide sequence of an RNA molecule so that it deviates from the sequence of its DNA template. Different RNA-editing systems are found in the major eukaryotic lineages, and these systems are thought to have evolved independently. In this study, we provide a detailed analysis of data on C-to-U editing sites in land plant chloroplasts and propose a model for the evolution of RNA editing in land plants. First, our data suggest that the limited RNA-editing system of seed plants and the much more extensive systems found in hornworts and ferns are of monophyletic origin. Further, although some eukaryotic editing systems appear to have evolved to regulate gene expression, or at least are now involved in gene regulation, there is no evidence that RNA editing plays a role in gene regulation in land plant chloroplasts. Instead, our results suggest that land plant chloroplast C-to-U RNA editing originated as a mechanism to generate variation at the RNA level, which could complement variation at the DNA level. Under this model, many of the original sites, particularly in seed plants, have been subsequently lost due to mutation at the DNA level, and the function of extant sites is merely to conserve certain codons. This is the first comprehensive model for the evolution of the chloroplast RNA-editing system of land plants and may also be applicable to the evolution of RNA editing in plant mitochondria.
This article was published in Mol Biol Evol
and referenced in Gene Technology