Fidelity and coordination of mitochondrial protein synthesis in health and disease

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The evolutionary acquisition of mitochondria has given rise to the diversity of eukaryotic life. Mitochondria have retained their ancestral α-proteobacterial traits through the maintenance of double membranes and their own circular genome. Their genome varies in size from very large in plants to the smallest in animals and their parasites. The mitochondrial genome encodes essential genes for protein synthesis and has to coordinate its expression with the nuclear genome from which it sources most of the proteins required for mitochondrial biogenesis and function. The mitochondrial protein synthesis machinery is unique because it is encoded by both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes thereby requiring tight regulation to produce the respiratory complexes that drive oxidative phosphorylation for energy production. The fidelity and coordination of mitochondrial protein synthesis are essential for ATP production. Here we compare and contrast the mitochondrial translation mechanisms in mammals and fungi to bacteria and reveal that their diverse regulation can have unusual impacts on the health and disease of these organisms. We highlight that in mammals the rate of protein synthesis is more important than the fidelity of translation, enabling coordinated biogenesis of the mitochondrial respiratory chain with respiratory chain proteins synthesised by cytoplasmic ribosomes. Changes in mitochondrial protein fidelity can trigger the activation of the diverse cellular signalling networks in fungi and mammals to combat dysfunction in energy conservation. The physiological consequences of altered fidelity of protein synthesis can range from liver regeneration to the onset and development of cardiomyopathy. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3449-3462
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number14
Early online date25 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021


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