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Team 4 : Maintenance and expression of plant mitochondiral genome

Team leader : José GUALBERTO

Research topics

  • Mitochondrial genome dynamics and maintenance (more)
  • Mitochondrial transfection (more)
  • Mitochondrial regulation, cross-talk and reverse genetics (more)

Role in MitoCross

First goal

The plant mitochondrial gene sequences evolve very slowly. This is supposedly because plant mitochondria contain an active DNA recombination system that allows copy correction of mutations. This system promotes a dynamic structure of the mitochondrial genome, but with a tight control by specific nuclear-encoded factors. We aim to characterize the recombination mechanisms involved in the dynamics and repair of the mitochondrial DNA in plants.

Second goal

At the heart of the recombination system of plant mitochondria there are RecA proteins encoded by nuclear genes of prokaryotic origin that were lost in animal lineages and recombination seems to be rare in mammalian mitochondria. We aim to provide mitochondria of human cell lines with plant mitochondrial RecAs and promote recombination-mediated copy correction, in particular for pathogenic mutations in the organelle DNA.

Third goal

The team discovered the natural competence of mitochondria for DNA import and established the functionality of the imported DNA. On that basis, we will develop mitochondrial transfection in model plant and human cell lines, using DNA-binding mitochondriotropic nanocarriers as a vehicle to introduce functional gene constructs into the cells and drive the DNA towards the organelles, with special reference to complementation of pathogenic mutations in the mitochondrial DNA.

Fourth goal

Exploiting the mitochondrial tRNA import pathway, the team established a system to target customized RNAs into the organelles in vivo. Targeting a catalytic RNA allowed, for the first time in a higher eukaryote, the directed knockdown of a mitochondrial RNA. With this strategy, we want to manipulate plant mitochondrial RNA levels for regulation studies, reverse genetics and control of cytoplasmic male sterility. We also aim to extend in vivo RNA shuttling to the mitochondria in mammalian cells.


Photographies of team members : click here

Former members
André Dietrich till 2018
Clémentine Wallet, LabEx MitoCross, Thèse de Doctorat soutenue le 26 Avril 2016
Pierre Mercier, contractuel LabEx MitoCross
Monique Leret till 2014

IBMP website of the team


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Jun 8 2020

for his article published in Nature Plants in April 2020 "Cryo-EM structure of the RNA-rich plant...

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