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Engineering the plastid and mitochondrial genomes of flowering plants

Abstract

Engineering the plastid genome based on homologous recombination is well developed in a few model species. Homologous recombination is also the rule in mitochondria, but transformation of the mitochondrial genome has not been realized in the absence of selective markers. The application of transcription activator-like (TAL) effector-based tools brought about a dramatic change because they can be deployed from nuclear genes and targeted to plastids or mitochondria by an N-terminal targeting sequence. Recognition of the target site in the organellar genomes is ensured by the modular assembly of TALE repeats. In this paper, I review the applications of TAL effector nucleases and TAL effector cytidine deaminases for gene deletion, base editing and mutagenesis in plastids and mitochondria. I also review emerging technologies such as post-transcriptional RNA modification to regulate gene expression, Agrobacterium- and nanoparticle-mediated organellar genome transformation, and self-replicating organellar vectors as production platforms.

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Fig. 1: Engineering the plastid genome based on homologous recombination.
Fig. 2: Lack of plastid-targeted homomeric ACC2 function makes plastid transformation efficient in Arabidopsis.
Fig. 3: The engineered PPR10 RNA binding protein and its cognate binding site for regulating gene expression in potato amyloplasts.
Fig. 4: TAL effectors for organellar genome engineering in plants.
Fig. 5: Expression of TAL effectors in the nucleus enables modification of organelle genomes.

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Acknowledgements

P.M. thanks C. Best for critical reading of the manuscript. Original research cited was supported by Research Grants from the National Science Foundation MCB 1716102 and National Science Foundation IOS 2037155 to P.M., and USDA NIFA Foundational Program Award No. 2014-67013-21600 to A. Barkan and P.M.

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Maliga, P. Engineering the plastid and mitochondrial genomes of flowering plants. Nat. Plants 8, 996–1006 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01227-6

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