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Deciphering the "OPR code" to further assess the physiological role of OPR proteins

Abstract : Following endosymbiosis, the chloroplast genome shrunk and became reliant on the host genome for its expression. In Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Octotricopeptide repeat proteins (OPR), encoded in the nucleus, control the expression of a specific organellar mRNA. The OPR repeat is a degenerate motif of 38 amino-acids, folding into a tandem of antiparallel α-helices which can bind to RNA. An individual OPR repeat is predicted to interact with one given nucleotide thanks to specificity-conferring residues at defined positions within the repeat. OPR proteins contain tracks of successive OPR motifs, thus they can bind to a specific RNA “target” sequence and act on it. I aimed to study this specificity, called the “OPR code”, starting with a draft code based on known OPR protein/mRNA couples. I mutated in vivo the chloroplast targets of some OPR factors to disrupt the OPR/RNA interaction, and then tried to restore it by mutating the specificity-conferring residues in the corresponding repeats. Surprisingly, OPR/RNA interactions seem very resilient, challenging our view of how the specificity is established in vivo. Complementary functional studies that I performed on the OPR factors MDB1 and MTHI1 revealed that chloroplast gene expression might rely on complex networks of nuclear factors. By cooperating those putative systems would be both more specific and more resilient.
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Domitille Jarrige. Deciphering the "OPR code" to further assess the physiological role of OPR proteins. Molecular biology. Sorbonne Université, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SORUS632⟩. ⟨tel-03349187⟩



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